Mexico’s latest elections were also its largest in the country’s history, as measured by the number of seats at stake. However, the highly anticipated midterm elections were marred by violence against political candidates. More than 80 candidates have been assassinated during Mexico’s midterm election cycle beginning last September, with many of those taking place in the closing phase of the campaign, according to the Spanish-language version of the well-known US media outlet CNN Español.

The outlet reports that many of these deaths have a link to turf wars between Mexican cartels and have occurred against candidates that express hardline security policies. Beyond assassinations, El Tiempo, a Colombian daily described as politically centrist, reports that Mexican candidates have reported hundreds of threats, intimidation, and kidnappings. However, a mere 65 of the candidates have been assigned state protection while campaigning. The assassination of dozens of political candidates in Mexico demonstrates the growing clout of the country’s criminal organizations and an increased assertiveness. Further, selective assassination of candidates based on their stated security policies could herald a greater political role for Mexico’s cartels, which previously focused mostly on profit maximizing behavior. Such violence could presage major political instability given Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s failure to make good on his security promises.

In many cases smaller criminal groups or larger drug cartels are targeting candidates they do not like to boost the promotion of their preferred candidate for office. And for these groups and cartels, territorial control is key…These groups are funding or promoting candidates, or threatening, intimidating, and killing those they want out of the game.

Source: “Al menos 88 políticos han sido asesinados en México desde septiembre rumbo a las elecciones del 6 de junio (At least 88 politicians have been assassinated in Mexico since September on the way to the June 6 elections),” CNN Español (Spanish-language version of the well known US media outlet), 31 May 2021. https://cnnespanol.cnn.com/2021/05/31/mexico-88-politicos-asesinados-septiembre-elecciones-trax/

The motives for the killings of so many candidates across the country are unclear, but the alleged factors are organized crime and the fight for territorial control…in many cases smaller criminal groups or larger drug cartels are targeting candidates they do not like to boost the promotion of their preferred candidate for office. And for these groups and cartels, territorial control is key…These groups are funding or promoting candidates, or threatening, intimidating, and killing those they want out of the game.

Source: “Decenas de políticos y servidores públicos han sido asesinados en los últimos seis meses en el país (Dozens of politicians and public servants have been assassinated in the last six months in the country),” El Tiempo (Colombian daily described as politically centrist), 25 May 2021. https://www.eltiempo.com/mundo/mexico/elecciones-en-mexico-candidatos-politicos-han-sido-asesinados-590688 https://www.elnacional.com/mundo/las-farc-de-ivan-marquez-aseguran-que-exguerrilleros-participaron-en-plan-para-asesinar-a-jesus-santrich/

Threats have become the main instrument of violence. Social networks and SMS messages or phone calls from prepaid lines have been the preferred channels of the attackers…The latest report from the Ministry of Security and Citizen Protection shows that as of April 30, 2020, at least 234 candidates had reported threats. However, only 65 received protection.

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