Candidate, Campaigner Murdered Weeks Before Mexico Election

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The lead up to Mexico’s general elections on July 1 had been largely peaceful until this week, when a candidate for the legislature in the troubled state of Guerrero and a political volunteer in Chiapas were gunned down in separate incidents.

Margarito Genchi Casiano (see image), a candidate for the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) was murdered at his home by a group of gunmen, according to reports. The motive for the killing of the former mayor and leader of the state beverage workers union is still unknown.

In another attack in the southern state of Chiapas, National Action Party (PAN) supporter Edgardo Hernandez was shot and killed as he returned home from posting materials in support of the party’s candidates. Eyewitnesses said that his vehicle was tailed. A local mayoral candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Ulises Grajales Niño, was arrested as a suspect.

InSight Crime Analysis

As InSight has reported, criminal gangs in Mexico have an increasing stake in this year’s elections. Because gangs are increasingly focused on extortion and retail drug sales, activities which they cannot carry out without some collusion from local authorities, their relationship with local governments has become more important. Additionally, in contrast to the past dominance of the PRI, which held the presidency for 70 years, the fact of several political parties vying for power means a single election can erase all the links that a criminal group have built with the incumbent administration.

Guerrero is an especially important strategic area for these criminal organizations. With its long coastline and numerous ports, it is a key location for smuggling drugs in Mexico from Central and South America.

As a result, Guerrerro is a heavily contested area and has seen very high rates of violence: a wave of brutal murders hit the state in the past month, despite Operation Safe Guerrero, an attempt by the government to quell violence.

Political figures have been targeted in Guerrero in recent years and months. In August 2011, the mayor of Zacualpan, a small town, was kidnapped and beaten to death. On Thursday, a regional prosecutor for the State Attorney General’s Office was murdered. Two alleged members of the Barredora drug gang, both former police officers, were arrested as suspects in the killing.

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