A mayoral candidate has been killed in Mexico, bringing to 34 the total number of candidates murdered nationwide ahead of June 6 legislative elections that will fill thousands of local seats and nearly half of the country’s governors.
Alma Barragan was shot dead on Tuesday, local media reported, while campaigning for the mayorship of the city of Moroleon in the violence-plagued state of Guanajuato in central Mexico. Two other people were reportedly injured.
On Wednesday, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the killing was “without doubt” the work of organised criminal gangs who were killing candidates to scare voters away from the polls.
“When there is a lot of abstentionism, the mafias dominate the elections,” Lopez Obrador said during his daily news conference.
Experts say drug gangs want to place sympathetic candidates in town halls and city governments, so they can operate without interference from police and extort money from local businesses and government budgets.
They also say violence during elections is not new.
“There’s always been violence with elections and electoral cycles especially at the mayoral level where you really see things get heated, but this time it feels like it’s way more than ordinary,” said Gladys McCormick, a history professor at Syracuse University and expert on security.
“It’s a testament of the influence of organised crime with these local elections trying to sway the institutions,” McCormick told Al Jazeera, “organised crime has infiltrated municipalities, law enforcement at the municipal levels,” she said. “This is working its way up.”