Mexico Elections See Shootings, Ballot Burning

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Local elections in Mexico saw several acts of violence and voting irregularities, following a violent and scandal plagued campaign season, which highlighted the extent to which Mexican politics is penetrated by organized crime.

In Veracruz state, a man died in Coxquihui municipality after an unidentified group shot at the campaign headquarters of the town’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) mayoral candidate, reported La Opinion. In Tijuana, Baja California, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the residence of PRI coalition candidate Leticia Castañeda, though the candidate was reported unhurt.

Voting irregularities reported included delays in the opening of voting booths, the theft of ballot boxes in Puebla, and voting slips in Oaxaca. Voting booths were also burned in Mexicali, Baja California, leading to the loss of uncounted ballots, according to El Universal’s live coverage. Threats by hooded figures armed with sticks and rocks were also reported in Puebla state.

Accusations of corruption and drug trafficking connections, which were rampant in the run-up to election day, continued to float around, with the president of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) accusing PRI candidates of receiving support from criminal organizations and of having armed men present as voting took place.

According to preliminary counts, the PRI won the majority of municipal seats in the violence-racked states of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, and Jalapa, while an alliance between the PAN, the PRD, and the New Alliance Party (PNA) won the governor’s office in Baja California.

InSight Crime Analysis

The constant accusations and acts of violence that occurred prior to the elections stand in contrast to the presidential elections of 2012, which took place with relatively few incidents, highlighting how criminal organizations benefit more from controlling local rather than national politics.

As mentioned by the PRD president, the pre-election violence and scandals have led to renewed accusations that the return of PRI rule under new President Enrique Peña Nieto would also see a return to a political pact with drug trafficking organizations, as is widely believed to have been the case during the years of uncontested PRI rule.

However, while numerous cases have involved criminals acting in favor of PRI candidates, there have also been several PRI members subjected to threats and attacks. This suggests that criminal organizations are less focused on co-opting political allies based on party membership, and more focused on who is easiest to bribe, and who is most likely to win. It remains to be seen how well this strategy was executed in these recent elections.

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