A wave of violence against candidates has sparked fears of political interference and pressure by criminal groups as 14 of Mexico’s 32 states prepare to hold local elections on July 7.

On June 29, two attacks occurred related to the upcoming municipal elections, reported the AFP. In Sinaloa, the son of Antonio Loaiza, a local campaign manager, was killed. In Oaxaca, an attack against Institutional Revolution Party (PRI) local congressional candidate, Rosalia Palma, left her husband and her assistant dead.

Two days earlier the body of Nicolas Estrada, president of the Party of the Democratic Revolution’s (PRD) state council in Oaxaca, where the PRI is facing off against a coalition of the PRD and the National Action Party (PAN) in the upcoming elections, was found, reported Reuters.

On June 23, campaign manager and local candidate Eleazar Armenta was murdered in Sinaloa, causing his political coalition, “Unidos Ganas Tu,” made up of the PRD, the PAN, and the Labor Party (PT), to close down its offices.

On June 12, Jaime Orozco, a candidate for mayor in Guadalupe y Calvo, a municipality in Chihuahua, was shot dead.

InSight Crime Analysis

The series of attacks against local candidates throughout the month of June is particularly disheartening given that the 2012 presidential and congressional elections were comparatively peaceful, despite the government’s fears of violence resulting from organized crime and/or political polarization. As a result of the violence, several candidates in Sinaloa and in Chihuahua have suspended their campaigns, and at least six municipalities in Durango are without PRD candidates due to threats from criminal groups

While there has certainly been violence against state and national-level politicians in the past, such as the murder of PRI gubernatorial candidate Rodolfo Torre Cantu in Tamaulipas in 2010, local candidates and politicians are the most vulnerable to threats from criminal groups. Municipal officials’ role in appointing local police officers and doling out government contracts make them prime targets for drug trafficking organizations seeking to exert control in a particular area. Furthermore, unlike more high-profile politicians, local candidates are unlikely to be able to afford heavy-duty personal protection.

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