Thursday, April 19, 2018

'We are watching you': Political killings shake Mexico election

Posted by DD Republished from Reuters  


 CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (Reuters) - Magda Rubio had just launched her campaign for mayor of a small city in northern Mexico, when a chilling voice came through her cell phone. “Drop out,” the caller warned, “or be killed.” 
 
File Photo Guachochi mayor candidate Magda Rubio speaks during an interview with Reuters in Ciudad Juarez , Mexico, March 31.  Reuters/Jose Luis Gonzales
It was the first of four death threats Rubio said she has received since January from the same well-spoken, anonymous man. She has stayed in the race in Guachochi, located in a mountainous region of Chihuahua state that is a key route for heroin trafficking. But two armed body guards now follow her round the clock.

“At 2 a.m., you start to get scared, and you say, ‘something bad is going on here’,” she said.

An explosion of political assassinations in Mexico has cast a pall over nationwide elections slated for July 1, when voters will choose their next president and fill a slew of down-ballot posts.

At least 82 candidates and office holders have been killed since the electoral season kicked off in September, making this the bloodiest presidential race in recent history, according to a tally by Etellekt, a security consultancy based in Mexico City, and Reuters research. 
 
Mayor Juan Carlos Andrade running for re-election. 

 Four were slain in the past week alone. They include Juan Carlos Andrade Magana, who was running for re-election as mayor of the hamlet of Jilotlan de los Dolores, located in Mexico’s western Jalisco state. His bullet-ridden body was discovered Sunday morning inside his Toyota Prius on the edge of town; Andrade had just attended a funeral. State prosecutors are investigating, but have made no arrests.

The victims hail from a variety of political parties, large and small, and most were running for local offices far removed from the national spotlight. The vast majority were shot. Most cases remain unsolved, the killers’ motives unclear. 

But security experts suspect drug gangs are driving much of the bloodshed. With a record of about 3,400 mostly local offices up for grabs in July, Mexico’s warring cartels appear to be jostling for influence in city halls nationwide, according to Vicente Sanchez, a professor of public administration at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana.

He said crime bosses are looking to install friendly lawmakers, eliminate those of rivals and scare off would-be reformers who might be bad for business. Local governments are a lucrative source of contracts and kickbacks, while their police forces can be pressed into service of the cartels.

“Criminal gangs want to be sure that in the next government, they can maintain their power networks, which is why they are increasing attacks,” Sanchez said.

Electoral authorities have warned that the bloodshed could affect voter turnout in some areas. The killing spree has stunned even veteran observers who see it as an assault on Mexico’s democracy and the rule of law.

“State and local authorities are outgunned and outmaneuvered and the federal forces cannot be everywhere,” said Duncan Wood, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. “There is an urgent need...to provide greater protection and insulation against organized crime.” 

 Mexico’s leaders are now scrambling to mount a response. Federal and state governments are providing candidates with bodyguards and, in some cases, bullet-proof vehicles. But the measures have proved largely ineffective as the death toll continue to rise. 


FRAGILE TRUCES

Seeds of the current mayhem were planted more than a decade ago when the Mexican government, backed by the United States, set out to topple the heads of Mexico’s leading drug cartels.

The strategy succeeded in taking down kingpins such as Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the longtime boss of the notorious Sinaloa Cartel, who now sits in a New York prison awaiting trial.

But the crackdown splintered established crime syndicates into dozens of competing gangs. Newcomers ratcheted up the savagery to intimidate rivals as well as police and public servants who might stand in their way.

A gang member from the state of Jalisco, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, explained how his cartel makes sure local officials tip them off to law enforcement actions.

    “If they don’t, there will be friction” he said, a polite euphemism for a bullet.
Pre-election violence has hit particularly hard in the southwestern Mexican state of Guerrero, where at least eight candidates for local office have been slain in the past six months. Cartels with names like Los Ardillos (The Squirrels) and Los Tequileros (The Tequila Drinkers) are fighting there over extortion rackets and control of heroin and cocaine smuggling. 
 


 Catholic Bishop Salvador Rangel visited the city of Chilapa in early April to forge an election-season truce between warring factions to stop the killing.

It did not last. Within days, Chilapa’s police chief, Abdon Castrejon Legideno, was shot dead while on patrol. A Guerrero state spokesman said in a statement that authorities arrested a suspect found carrying a 9mm firearm near the scene.

The rising body count has been a millstone for the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and its deeply unpopular standard bearer, President Enrique Pena Nieto. Mexico’s leader has said little publicly about the spate of political killings.

The party is expected to fare poorly in the July vote. Pena Nieto is barred from a second term by Mexico’s constitution. The PRI’s candidate to replace him as president, Jose Antonio Meade, is polling well behind the front-runners.

Security ranks among voters’ biggest worries. Mexico posted a record of nearly 29,000 homicides last year, attributed mainly to organized crime and fallout from the drug war. 


‘COYOTE LOOKING AFTER THE CHICKEN’

Some political candidates contacted by Reuters declined to comment or be identified out of fear of reprisals.

But in Chihuahua state, mayoral hopeful Rubio is speaking out about the death threats against her, hoping publicity will spur law enforcement to crack her case and deter any would-be attackers.

Rubio, 42, traveled to meet Reuters in the state’s biggest city, Ciudad Juarez, across the U.S. border from El Paso. Her husband and their four children accompanied her, but she requested that no information about them be revealed out of concern for their safety.

A lawyer and human rights activist, Rubio says she is running as an independent to prod government to do more for the region’s impoverished Raramuri indigenous people. She suspects whoever threatened her is not interested in change.

Her small town of Guachochi sits in the heart of the so-called Golden Triangle crisscrossing the states of Chihuahua, Sinaloa and Durango, a region flush with leafy marijuana farms and fields dotted with pink and red opium poppies.

Rubio said she has suffered panic attacks since the anonymous caller began his warnings.

“They said, ‘we are watching you. It’s time for you to go’,” Rubio said.

Two local cops now shadow her, but Rubio said she is not resting easy. Cartels have a knack for infiltrating security details like a “coyote looking after the chicken,” she said.

Despite the risks, she said she wants to show her children and other women that Mexico’s institutions can work.

“I cannot quit,” Rubio said. “I’m here because I want a change in my country.”


Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz in Ciudad Juarez; Additional reporting by Uriel Sanchez in Acapulco; Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Marla Dickerson

21 comments:

  1. Whoa........I am awaiting worse, just god awful.

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  2. Business as usual, nothing to see here. Since before colosio shit has been shady... otro dia que?

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  3. Very good article

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  4. She has guts need more Mexican to fight back.make mexico great again. What wonderful place it was before

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  5. There has been some real Heros from the Mexican people. I respect the Ones who have stayed and fought for their Freedom, while others give up and went to the USA

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  6. A woman to teach the men of Mexico to stand up for the Country!!!

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  7. How long will she last alive. They will bribe one of her bodyguards, to take her out. Money talks in Mexico.

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  8. Magda Rubio.Beautiful woman,hope her courage and conviction goes a way to protecting her as well as some decent bodyguards and dudes.
    I DONT WANT TO SEE HER HERE AS A STORY,SI DIOS QUIERE..
    Can you here us ?

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    1. 2:09 let's send her our prayers, but what she needs is to get attathere ASAP and not come back until she has at least 100 armed citizens guarding her 24/7 all day.
      Imagine MAO depending on a couple of body guards bought and paid for by the US backed Air Tigers of Claire Chenault, his chinese wife Madame Chennault and Chiang Kai Shek? He would not have lasted one week in power, same with The Castristas, power emanates from the people, not from a couple or a thousand bodyguards "provided by the corrupt government"

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  9. What a brave lady! I hope that she stays safe,shes obviously got the cartels worried so i hope the locals support her and vote her in.

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  10. Sadly, they will get to her, but I imagine she knows this.
    Such a beautiful country with a rich heritage, now reduced to this madness.

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  11. Hey bb readers correct me if I’m wrong.

    The only former Mexican president to actually live after there term is up has been Vincent fox?

    Calderon y zedillo in northeastern US.
    Salinas en Europa y think the Netherlands or Belgium.

    Check this out
    The mayor of Reynosa Tamaulipas has been spotted entering the Mexican side from mission tx in a armored suv during the mornings meaning she lives in Texas and does her political duties during the day in Mexico.

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    1. You are incorrect, dumbass fox has lived in texas full time on his ranch since leaving office.

      there have been a few governors living on the Texas side.

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    2. Vincente Fox has the audacity to speak on behalf of its Mexican citizens while living in the US. What a hypocrite! Rather confront the issues of its government and change its policy. Guess it’s not safe for him and family living where he’s from! So tweeting from abroad is what he will ever do. Nothing more!

      E42

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  12. Most of the rich crooked politicos like Fox who hate the US live in the US why because its safe. They are joke will not stay and make Mexico Great
    Cowards

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    1. About as big of cowards as the founding fathers of this nation... if they had any balls they would’ve stayed in Europe to fight the tyranny that they so cowardly ran away from ... how scared were they that they ran all the way across the world to claim land that was never theirs.

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    2. There were no borders then... and the world was not overcrowded...

      GC

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    3. "La Chachalaca" Fox does not hate the US,
      but he will not take any crap from anybody,
      specially not while he is running for president of the US...

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  13. @4:27. Make Mexico Great Again. Wow that shot cracks me up. It's like the days of Sam Houston when he caught them in their siesta and took their shit in a little less than 30 minutes. Keep trying.

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  14. Regardless of who is watching who corruption practices will continue. A common problem in Mexico for some time. Doing good comes with a price and consequences.
    A destabilized country caused by political greed and interests worldwide.

    Change will only come from the masses of its people. When it’s ciitizens had enough! Those handful of few will not be sufficient enough to make a sound for change.
    Time will tell when the next president comes along. Will it be the the same old practices which Mexico is academically acclaimed for?
    Or will it finally be the beginning of a new era?

    E42

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