Mayoral candidate killed in latest violence ahead of Mexico's general election

Apr 03, 2024

Celaya [Mexico], April 3 : A mayoral candidate has been assassinated and three others have been injured in a shooting that shook the Mexican city of Celaya as the country braces for its impending general election, CNN reported.
Bertha Gisela Gaytan, a mayoral hopeful for Celaya, met her untimely demise on Monday during a campaign event in the community of San Miguel Octopan.
The Guanajuato state prosecutor's office confirmed her death, unequivocally labelling it as an assassination. Alongside Gaytan, three other individuals, including city council candidate Adrian Guerrero, sustained injuries in the attack, as reported by CNN.
Mexico's Secretariat of Federal Public Security initially declared Guerrero deceased but later revised the statement, noting his current status as missing. Authorities have launched a comprehensive investigation, deploying investigators and forensic experts to gather crucial evidence to apprehend the perpetrators.
Gaytan's tragic demise is the latest in a series of violent incidents that have cast a shadow over Mexico's upcoming general election, slated for June 2. Gaytan had been actively campaigning for Morena, the political party led by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Lopez Obrador on Tuesday condemned the attack, saying, "These events are very regrettable because they are people who are fighting to assert democracy, who are in the streets, showing their faces, fighting for others and it hurts a lot that this happens in our country."
Morena also expressed profound sorrow over the "cowardly murder" of their colleague and extended heartfelt condolences to Gaytan's family, friends, and supporters. The party urged swift and thorough investigations by the Guanajuato prosecutor's office and other relevant authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Political violence, unfortunately, tends to escalate during election seasons in Mexico, and this year appears to be no exception. Analysts consulted by CNN predict that this year's election cycle could be the most violent during Lopez Obrador's tenure, with at least 12 candidates killed and numerous instances of violence reported against others from September to March, according to Integralia, a public affairs consultancy.
Integralia Consultants highlighted the insidious role of criminal gangs in financing campaigns, intimidating candidates, and coercing politicians to align with their interests through violent means. Municipal-level candidates often bear the brunt of such violence, given their influence over local territories and potential to offer impunity to criminal organisations.
Guanajuato, a pivotal industrial centre and a crucial node in the automotive industry, has been engulfed in brutal turf wars among rival drug cartels. These cartels vie for control due to the region's strategic location with direct routes to the US border via road and rail networks.
Prior to the fatal attack, Gaytan had publicly voiced concerns about her safety and had requested additional security measures. Shortly before Monday's attack, she said. "Assistance has already been requested through the state legal system in the party. We are looking at this issue, to see how it is resolved. The citizens are with us, they take care of us, but of course we are going to have [security] protocols."
Guanajuato Governor Diego Sinhue Rodriguez Vallejo denounced the attack, vowing to ensure that those responsible face the full force of the law. He pledged to collaborate with state authorities to bolster security measures for all participants in the electoral process.
On June 2, Over 100 million Mexicans will cast their votes for over 2,0,000 positions, including federal and local offices, in what is anticipated to be a pivotal moment for the nation's democratic journey, CNN reported.