Monday, July 5, 2010
Election day violence in Chihuahua
Although violence by drug cartels was expected to disrupt the conduct of elections in the 15 states involved only two states were significantly affected according to Mexican press reports.
On election day, Sunday, Chihuahua recorded 10 executions in the capital city of the same name and another 12 in Ciudad Juarez. At least 24 murders were attributed to organized crime through out the state.
Voter turnout was just over 30% of the total registered voter rolls, which was attributed to widespread insecurity in the most violent state in Mexico.
Between 3:00 and 4:00 AM in the state capital of Chihuahua 2 men were found hung from an overpass at the Tecnológico and Los Nogales intersection. One of the victims was identified by authorities as José Scott González, assistant warden of the CERESO prison in Chihuahua who had been abducted on Saturday.
Individual victims were also found hung from two other overpasses on the R.Almada expressway at the intersections with Zoología St. and Buena Vista St.
The current PRI Governor of the state of Chihuahua, Jose Reyes Baeza Terrazas, denied in a statement that the hangings and public display of the victims were an attempt by organized crime to intimidate voters.
Also on Sunday the execution-style murder of 6 men occurred at the outskirts of the city of Chihuahua. The bodies were observed by passing motorists at 12 noon on the highway to the city of Delicias. All bore signs of torture before being shot.
Police speculate that all 10 of the murders in the city of Chihuahua were committed by the same squad of sicarios (assassins) as all the victims were bound with the same brand of yellow plastic handcuffs.
The 12 murders in Ciudad Juarez were committed in 5 separate shooting incidents. In the Infonavit Mil Cumbres neighborhood a 90 year old passerby was caught in a crossfire and killed in a shooting where 3 other victims were targeted by gunmen.
In another of the shootings in Ciudad Juarez a 15 year old girl was targeted and killed by a group of gunmen.
In the town of Batopilas located in the Copper Canyon area of the Sierra Madre in Chuhuahua the brother of the PAN candidate for mayor was murdered in an armed encounter.
At least 13 other execution style murders attributed to organized crime were committed throughout the country of Mexico on Sunday. Several of the killings occurred in states holding elections.
In Culiacan, Sinaloa, a retired teacher and PRI committee member, Casimiro Meza Benitez, was shot after being thrown out of and run over by a group of gunmen in a pick-up after the polls had closed.
In the state of Hidalgo, the state prosecutor’s office released a statement confirming the executions Sunday morning of the chief and assistant chief of police in the municipality of Actopan.
The prosecutor’s office also discarded the theory that the killings were meant to intimidate the electoral process.
In the state of Chiapas, a PRD party official was murdered Sunday morning in the town of Tenejapa by gunmen after ending his shift reviewing and accrediting the locations of polling stations .
State and federal law enforcement authorities received information that voters were driven away from polling stations in several small towns in the state of Durango by armed groups of masked men. This occurred in spite of the participation of federal forces in patrolling the state during election day.
The insecurity and fear of attacks by organized crime groups as a consequence of the assassination of the PRI candidate for governor of Tamaulipas, Rodolfo Torre Cantú, affected voter turnout in that state and caused an absenteeism among polling officials.
700 Polling officials did not show up to their stations and only 25 percent of voters went to the polls because of rumors that there would be attacks by armed groups.
Egidio Torre Cantú, brother of the assassinated candidate and designated by the national PRI party leadership as the replacement candidate in the Governor's race voted with a bulletproof vest on and was guarded by 4 layers of security including snipers posted on roofs surrounding his polling station.