Political Candidate in Mexico Murdered as Elections Near

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A mayoral candidate in Mexico’s turbulent state of Guerrero was found dead draped in a threatening message from a local criminal organization, a case that reveals the importance of political collusion for organized crime groups in Latin America.

On the night of March 10, authorities in Guerrero found the decapitated body of Aide Nava Gonzalez, a woman who was running for mayor in the small town of Ahuacuotzingo, reported Proceso. Nava Gonzalez had been kidnapped the day before by an armed group, according to Milenio

A banner threatening other Guerrero politicians and candidates was alongside the body, signed by criminal group Los Rojos, reported BBC Mundo. It read in part, “This will happen to all the politicians who do not want to get in line.” 

The candidate’s husband had served as mayor of the same town from 2009 to 2012 and was shot dead in June 2014, according to Proceso. Her son also went missing last year and has yet to be found. 

Local and congressional elections in Mexico will be held in June.

InSight Crime Analysis

The brutal killing of Nava Gonzalez — and threating note directed to other like-minded politicians — is a manifestation of the need for criminal groups to subvert political institutions in Latin America. This can be done either through intimidation, as seen in the Nava Gonzalez case, or through bribery and illegal campaign funding, as has happened in Peru. Regardless of the means, organized crime groups have the common aim of winning political cover in order to carry out their criminal activities without fear of repercussions. 

Although the phenomenon of organized crime seeking to influence the political arena is a region-wide problem, it is particularly acute in Mexico. According to a 2013 report by the Local Authorities Association, at least 250 mayors across 10 states were threatened by organized crime groups in Mexico that year.

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles

The close ties between criminal groups and public officials in Guerrero was brought into sharp relief in 2014, when it was revealed a local mayor had criminal group the Guerreros Unidos on his payroll. On orders from the mayor, the Guerreros Unidos disappeared and allegedly killed over 40 students from a local teachers college last September, leading to outrage within Mexico and internationally. 

The Guerreros Unidos are currently engaged in a bitter turf war with Los Rojos over drug trafficking routes, which may make the run-up to elections this year especially violent. However, political violence is not contained to just Guerrero. In the past week alone, mayors in two states with a heavy presence of organized crime, Tamaulipas and Sinaloa, have seen political violence, according to the Guardian.

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