15 mayors have been killed since President Felipe Calderon declared war on Mexico’s drug cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006 including the murder of the mayor of Santiago, Nuevo Leon, Edelmiro Cavazos.
Several Mexican mayors have been forced to move to the United States for reasons of personal and family safety in the face of threats from drug traffickers and the killings of 10 mayors this year in Mexico.
Mayors from the northern border states of Tamaulipas, Chihuahua and Nuevo Leon have moved to the United States, with some taking up residence in that country permanently and others splitting their time between U.S. and Mexican residences, municipal officials said.
The mayors of at least six border cities in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas have been forced to move to neighboring Texas.
“The advantage for them is that they cross the Rio Bravo (Rio Grande) and they are in their city hall or their home,” an official of the ruling National Action Party, or PAN, said on condition of anonymity.
Most of the mayors use nondescript vehicles to avoid drawing attention to themselves and do not drive long distances, the official said.
Another large group of mayors from Tamaulipas decided to abandon their cities in the last year of their terms and hide out in other places in Mexico, where drug-related violence has surged since the start of this year.
Two of them left their communities and govern “with the telephone in their hand,” the PAN official said.
“The case of the mayors is not restricted to the PAN. Mayors from the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) have also had to take measures to protect their security,” the official said.
The PAN refused to run candidates in the last municipal elections in some cities where organized crime groups have extensive control.
The threats are continuous in some cases, while the criminals go beyond threats in other cases.
A mayor in Nuevo Leon state was murdered last week and another was seriously wounded in Chihuahua state.
Five mayors have been murdered in the past six weeks, with a total of 10 killed this year.
About 15 mayors have been killed since President Felipe Calderon declared war on Mexico’s drug cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006.
Chihuahua, one of the country’s most dangerous states, is home to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s murder capital.
Some mayors from Chihuahua have decided to live in El Paso, Texas, which is just across the border from Juarez, crossing daily to work, municipal officials said.
The situation has also worsened in Nuevo Leon, where Doctor Gonzalez Mayor Prisciliano Rodriguez was murdered last Thursday, a month after Santiago Mayor Edelmiro Cavazos was killed.
Crime has surged in some cities in Nuevo Leon and people are moving to other parts of Mexico and the United States, a state legislator said on condition of anonymity.
Drug cartels threaten officials to keep them from interfering with their criminal activities.
Many of the cities have only between two and five patrol cars for the average of 30 police officers on the payroll, and officers have few firearms to take on criminals, officials said.
Some high-level officials and their families have also been forced to flee to the United States.
Baja California state’s public safety secretary and the director of the Tijuana police department, as well as some officers, were forced to send their families away for their own safety.
Tijuana Mayor Jorge Ramos said the goal was to allow the officials to fight criminals during their terms in office, which end in late November.