Two Mayor Candidates Killed Ahead of Election in Mexico

( – Two mayoral candidates have been murdered in Mexico amid spiraling political violence. The two politicians are competing to become Mayor of the city of Maravatio, and law enforcement is warning that more candidates could die as the June 2 elections approach. During previous elections in 2021, more than two dozen candidates were killed.

State prosecutors announced on February 27 that National Action Party contender Armando Pérez was shot to death at his home the previous evening. Party leader Marko Cortés said the killing demonstrated the “extremely serious levels of violence” political candidates are facing in “one of the most important elections in Mexican history.”

Just hours before Mr. Pérez’s body was discovered, Miguel Ángel Zavala, standing for the ruling Morena party, was found dead in his car. The party issued a statement saying that Mr. Zavala had only just announced his intention to stand and was not a formal party candidate. Leader Juan Pablo Celis called the killing “a cowardly and reprehensible act.”

Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the murders were “unfortunate,” as experts warn 2024 could be a particularly bloody year in Mexican politics. Data analysis organization Data Cívica reports 36 politically-linked violent incidents in January alone, and says eight candidates have been murdered since last September.

A report from Intergralia Consultants states that criminal gangs in Mexico routinely employ intimidation tactics and violent threats to persuade politicians to bow to their will. Gangs often focus on municipal elections because Mayors are linked with local law enforcement and can help the networks operate with impunity.

Mexico’s Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodríguez, a close ally of López Obrador, said the government is working on improving the safety of political candidates across the country.

Former President Felipe Calderon officially declared “war” on Mexico’s infamous cartels back in 2006, but no government has yet been able to bring them under control. Ten years after Calderon’s declaration, cartel-related murders were up by 22%.

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