Crime

Mayors & politicians targeted by organized crime groups in Mexico

Progressive politician Alejandro Aparicio was governor of Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca for barely an hour and a half after his inauguration before his murder on New Year’s Day. Aparicio belonged to the same political party as Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, The National Regeneration Movement (Morena).

Two assailants shot Aparicio and others down while touring city hall on the street in the San Bartolo neighborhood shortly after 11 a.m. He later died of gunshot wounds at the IMSS hospital while two other officials, syndicate Perfecto Hernández and chancellor Cleotilde Santos, sustained injuries. Family members of Aparicio are demanding justice.

“We want to do everything possible to clarify this murder because there can be no impunity,” said Victoria Feria, Aparacio’s widow, during an interview with Democracy Now!. “That’s what we’re asking for as a family, to clarify the killing and to support us.”

One of the suspected hitmen was a 34-year-old former police officer from northern Mexico while less is known about the second. Both attended Aparicio’s oathtaking ceremony and gained enough proximity to the victims to shoot them at point-blank. A group of bystanders allegedly tried to lynch the individuals before they were handed over to authorities.

Now Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat is urging the state prosecutor to conduct a thorough investigation into finding out who orchestrated this attack. Yeidckol Polevnsky, national leader of Morena, also demands a stop to the brutality against popular representatives of his party.

“What a time for scoundrels to cowardly attack governments elected by the people,” wrote Polevnsky, adding that “hatred and violence” won’t prevent López Obrador from improving the country.

This case represents a growing trend in Mexico surrounding political violence, particularly against reformist parties like Morena. What seems to be happening is that adversaries of López Obrador (whether they are organized crime groups or competing politicians) are targeting other elected Morena officials in the very first moments of their tenure.

Prior to Aparicio’s slaying, Morena representative María Ascensión Cruz Torres was assassinated on December 30 in Mazatepec, Morelos after taking office for only 24 hours, for example.

In general, mayors across Mexico face fierce retaliation from organized crime groups with Aparicio as 2019’s first slain public official. La Razón newspaper reported that 23 mayors perished in 2018, many of whom campaigned for political reforms.

Numbers are even higher for everyday politicians or political candidates in Mexico. According to Animal Politico, 101 politicians and candidates perished between September 6, 2017 and June 27, 2018.

Based on this report from political and law enforcement groups, the state of Guerrero saw the most murders during this period with 20 recorded homicides of public officials. Oaxaca experienced the second-worst violence rate with 17 homicides and Puebla in third with 10.

As far as things go in Jalisco, political killings aren’t isolated incidents. The mayor of Tecalitlán on July 2, 2018, a day after the general elections known for being one of the most violent in Mexico’s recent history.

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