Since Mexico’s election season began in September, at least 82 candidates and politicians have been murdered, according to Reuters and security consulting firm Etellekt.
Most of the slain were local candidates, and most were shot to death in unsolved murders.
Given the power of Mexico’s drug cartels, it’s unsurprising that the victims of these assassinations come from an array of political parties. Experts believe that gangs are behind the killings in an effort to intimidate lawmakers — and further infiltrate the government with politicians who are corruptible and will show them favor.
“Criminal gangs want to be sure that in the next government, they can maintain their power networks, which is why they are increasing attacks,” Vincente Sanchez, a professor of public administration at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana, told The Daily Mail.
Such slayings have become all too common in Mexico. After five politicians were killed within a week around the turn of the new year, the country’s president of the National Association of Mayors declared, “We have called on the president asking for an immediate meeting to implement a security protocol for mayors. The insecurity cannot continue this way in our country.”
Others point to the factor of intimidation which might deter voters from showing up at the polls come election time.
While short on resources, Mexican authorities have started to provide security for candidates.
“State and local authorities are outgunned and outmaneuvered and the federal forces cannot be everywhere. There is an urgent need … to provide greater protection and insulation against organized crime,” said Duncan Wood, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.
Revolutionaries and change-makers are naturally seen as the greatest threat to organized crime in Mexico, which makes such candidates targets.
Magda Rubio, a mother of four running for mayor in a small northern town, received a phone call soon after the launch of her campaign that simply said: “Drop out. Or be killed.”
And the caller hasn’t stopped. In another message, they told her, “We are watching you. It’s time for you to go.”
But Rubio said she will continue her campaign because she wants to show that Mexico’s government can work.
“I cannot quit,” she said. “I’m here because I want a change in my country.”