Mexico: new political assassinations before the elections

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Two mayoral candidates were assassinated on the same day in Mexico, the scene of a strong wave of political violence that the government says it wants to stop before the elections scheduled for June.

• Read also: Mexico: dozens of politicians assassinated before the June elections

Yuriel Gonzalez, who aspired to be elected mayor of Nuevo Casas Grandes, a municipality in the state of Chihuahua, was killed Thursday evening, Alejandro Dominguez, a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), said on Friday.

Dominguez called on the authorities to conduct “a rapid investigation” to find the perpetrators of this assassination.

It came hours after the death in similar circumstances of another PRI candidate for mayor, Jose Melquiades Vazquez, shot dead in Veracruz state, known for the violence of rival cartels.

Dozens of politicians have been assassinated in the past six months in Mexico ahead of parliamentary and regional elections in June.

The violence in Mexico that precedes polls, especially at the local level, is usually perpetrated by cartels involved in drug trafficking operating in the region.

“Organized crime is trying to influence the course of these elections,” Security Minister Rosa Icelanda Rodriguez said Thursday.

She had reported 73 cases of political violence, including 64 homicides, mainly in the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca (south), Veracruz (east), Baja California (north), Jalisco (west), Guanajuato and Morelos (center).

These assassinations come at a time when the government is presenting a plan to strengthen the protection of threatened candidates.

“We are striving to stop these crimes against these criminal organizations which seek (…) to increase their political influence”, continued the minister during the morning press conference of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, at the head of the left-wing Morena party.

Violence against politicians most often takes the form of killings, kidnappings, threats against family members, house fires and extortion.

Some 94 million Mexicans are called upon to elect 500 deputies to the federal lower house, 15 of 32 governors, deputies to 30 state congresses and thousands of mayors and other local officials.

According to the consultancy firm Etellekt, 153 politicians were assassinated during the 2018 election campaign, of which 48 were candidates for elected office.

This cabinet emphasizes that 90% of these crimes go unpunished. Since December 2006, when the government launched a drug offensive, Mexico has recorded more than 300,000 violent deaths, according to official data.