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Power vacuums across Mexican states created by June 6’s midterm elections have caused a dramatic spike in lethal violence throughout the country, with over 57 dead in the past few weeks throughout the course of five massacres.

Six people died during a riot in a prison in Villahermosa, Tabasco, followed by seven shot dead by gunmen in Salvatierra, Guanajuato. Another seven were killed in a commando, and a further 18 died in a clash between rival cartels in Zacatecas.

The most deadly of all, the mass killing of 19 people by splinters of the Gulf Cartel in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, that occurred on Saturday, June 19, was reportedly carried out just to “heat up the plaza.”

According to nonprofit group Cause in Common, over 250 massacres have taken place in Mexico from January to June 2021, with a massacre being defined as the deaths of three or more people in one given situation.

“The president himself is changing his cabinet; there is like a power vacuum and criminal groups take advantage of and reactivate their activities,” said security expert Raúl Benítez. “The border with the United States is about to reopen, so this is going to reactivate drug trafficking.”

He went on to say that “the same thing happened in Zacatecas, where the change of government creates a very large power vacuum.”

Former director of the now-defunct Center for Research and National Security (Cisen) Guillermo Valdés likewise attributed the violence to the post-election timeframe, and said the federal government’s lack of military intervention has only amplified the issue.

“That ‘I’m not going to make the army use violence and I’m not going to stop drug lords’ attitude gives a green light for criminal organizations to do what they want,” said Valdés.

“Permissiveness and passivity will continue to be the the main news story. Unfortunately, we citizens will pay for this. We must insist that the government does its duty. It does not want to do it at all, so all calls are useful.”

The current administration, led by populist President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has thus far recorded 83,695 victims of intentional homicide within the first three years of its six-year term.

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