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Mexico’s presidential candidate year marked heavily by violence

Mexico City, Mexico — Presidential candidates have begun their campaigning to fill the seat in the July 1 elections, however, the year has already been marked heavily by violence.

On July 1, the country will choose more than 18,300 federal and local offices, including 1,200 councilors and more than 12,000 council members. The struggle for the power of thousands of candidates will take place in an environment marked by violence.

According to a report by BL es Noticias, 2017 left the worst figures in more than two decades with 29,000 homicides and a rate of 20.5 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.

More than 400 municipal presidents of the National Action Party (PAN), grouped in the National Association of Mayors, have made a risk map for the candidates seeking votes.

The group has divided the country into four regions according to the threats that politicians have received and the level of homicides of each regions. The four regions of Durango, Michoacán, Oaxaca and Veracruz are considered the most dangerous.

States labeled as high risk are Chihuahua, Guerrero, Tamaulipas, State of Mexico and Puebla. In these regions, political candidates will campaign with escorts.

The map of violence has scarcely changed from that of 2012, when the war against drug trafficking cartels initiated by President Felipe Calderón was entering its sixth year. The conflict that resulted in tens of thousands of deaths threatened the electoral process. The dangerous regions then were in Nuevo Leon, Morelos and Guerrero, these being the scenarios disputed by various groups of organized crime.

During the administration of Calderón, 28 mayors were murdered. In 2010, the candidate for governor of the PRI for Tamaulipas, Rodolfo Torre Cantu, the favorite to win the race, was the victim of an attack in which he lost his life.

The National Association of Mayors reports during the administration of Enrique Peña Nieto from 2016 to March of 2018, 52 municipal presidents (mayors) have been assassinated.

The sum of this group, which responds to a party in the opposition, rises to 120 victims if the attacks are counted on the elected municipales and the exediles (9 and 59, respectively). 2017 was also the most violent year for politicians with nine mayors killed.

The attacks against the candidates have also marked the campaign of 2018. The most recent attack was Israel Mendoza, a candidate for federal deputy for Morena, the party of current presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who was attacked with a firearm at dawn on March 27 in the state of San Luis Potosí. He remains in serious condition.

Violence has touched all parties in the country which has ignited alarms of the Organization of American States (OAS).

“There is an average of one murder of a candidate every four or five days. It is a margin of violence that is absolutely unacceptable in an electoral process,” the organization’s secretary general, Luis Almagro said.

Alfonso Navarrete, the Secretary of Interior has met with the governors of four parties, the PRI, PAN, PRD and Verde to try and understand the insecurity. Recently, the minister said that his office, which coordinates the fight against organized crime, has already prepared a security protocol prepared by them along with General Staff, an elite group of the army who are often assigned security of the presidential candidates during elections.