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Defending our democracy

Violence has invaded the 2018 General Election, making it the most violent ever recorded in Mexican history
Defending our democracy
File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
20/05/2018
09:02
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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Mexican democracy finds itself today under a serious threat. The growing wave of criminal violence which has ravaged regions and entire communities in our countries has “invaded” the electoral campaigns, turning politicians into the targets of criminals and making this current election the most violent ever recorded in our history.

Since the beginning of the election period, 254 days ago, 36 aspiring candidates and official candidates to public offices have been murdered; in 18 cases, authorities and witnesses have attributed the crimes to armed groups who have ambushed the victims – the typical M.O of organized crime.

Although only 8 of these 36 politicians were official candidates, 5 were considered preliminary candidates and 23 were aspiring candidates, and it's clear by the death toll that we're facing a savage violence against politicians and, the most concerning aspect of it all, the desire of criminal organizations and drug cartels of imposing themselves above the will of the citizens and the Mexican election system itself.

This notion is reinforced when we see these murders cover all corners of the country, regardless of the ideology or party affiliation of the victims: virtually members from all political parties – including independent candidates – have been attacked or murdered.

With all these crimes, it is also exposed that law enforcement at a municipality level continues being the most vulnerable front, given the number of attacks. A strategy hasn't been devised despite it has been known for a while this is a weakness.

The case of Zihuatanejo is, tragically, an adequate example: between December 2017 and March 2018, in Guerrero state, three local politicians were murdered in this municipality: Miguel Solorio Figueroa, Mariano Catalán Ocampo, and Homero Bravo Espino – all who aspired to run for Mayor of Zihuatanejo, one of the main tourism hubs in the states which is now considered one of the most violent cities in the country.

Like experts claim, the current process is pivotal for drug cartels and organized crime to recruit candidates aspiring to run for office, usually through the “money or a bullet” law. Thus, with the information they have about the “hot” zones in the country, authorities should focus on protecting the candidates at greater risk for the remainder of the electoral contest.

Given this unmistakable signs that organized crime is trying to take over public offices in several states – a perversion of the electoral process in itself – the State has to act and defend the basic principle of our democracy: the right to a free vote.

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