Journalist Raymundo Riva Palacio. Photo: Google

By KELIN DILLON

As Mexico’s June 6 midterms fast approach, an increase in violence and assassinations of candidates and politicians has seen little-to-no response from President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) with any effectiveness in stopping the bloodshed.

Back in March, López Obrador promised to create a plan to provide protection to aspiring politicians. Fast forward a month and a half later and Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection Rosa Icela Rodríguez advised AMLO that more than 200 candidates for office in this year’s midterm elections had received threats against their lives from the cartel, with an unspecified large number of those deemed in danger of death.

Rodríguez ended the meeting by saying there would be essentially no way for the government to provide protection to these political aspirants, reneging on AMLO’s promises.

“The inability of the government to provide protection to male and female candidates in this electoral process is unacceptable and inexcusable,” wrote Raymundo Riva Palacio in his column for El Financiero. “Violence, since the president announced the plan to prevent it, has increased.”

Riva Palacio used numbers from the Etellekt consultancy, which creates an electoral violence index, to support his claims.

“According to the Etellekt index, 32 days before the elections, there were 476 criminal acts against politicians, candidates and candidates, with a balance of 443 victims and 79 intentional homicides. The global number of victims, underlined the consultancy, had an increase of 64 percent compared to the same electoral process in 2018, and the number of politicians and candidates for popularly elected positions assassinated was almost 30 percent higher than the intermediate electoral cycle in 2015. Violence is widespread. There were attacks and murders in 31 of the 32 states, where 78 percent of the victims were opponents of the local government.”

Riva Palacio pointed out the areas most affected by political violence were also those with a high concentration of drug trafficking cartels, like Veracruz, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Morelos.

“The electoral process got caught up in this cartel war that placed the government in the contradiction that it itself caused: the strategy of not fighting any criminal organization and thinking that only through social programs, attacking the root problems of drug trafficking, insecurity would be reduced.”

Social programs, AMLO’s weapon of choice in impoverished areas, are not enough to combat the lucrative money that can come from working with the cartel, said Riva Palacio. Said social programs must be accompanied by a strong fight against the cartels by the government to lower incentive for lower-income Mexicans to join drug trafficking.

“The general inaction against the drug cartels has allowed their business to flourish and violence to grow from the dispute over territories. With more money, the more weapons they buy, and with them, greater firepower to confront their rivals and the security forces when they are crossed, generally by chance.”

Riva Palacio finished his column by saying that Secretary Rodríguez “was unfortunately honest with the president when she told him that the government would not be able to protect those who aspire to popularly elected positions.” 

“The implicit message is strong: There will be more deaths and more violence. Hopefully, they should think that the election passes quickly.”

 

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