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Funeral for Alma Barragan Moroleón, Guanajuato Funeral services for Alma Barragan, candidate for mayor in Moroleón, Guanajuato, who was killed at a campaign event on May 25.

AMLO insists there’s ‘peace and tranquility’ as election violence worst in history

President says the issue is being exaggerated by his political adversaries

Mexico is amidst its most violent electoral season on record, but President López Obrador sees things differently, declaring on Wednesday that there is “peace and tranquility” in the entire country.

The risk analysis firm Etellekt, which tracks election campaign violence, reported that there were 782 acts of aggression against politicians and candidates between September 7, 2020 and May 30, a 1% increase compared to the 2017–18 electoral season, when a total of 774 such incidents were recorded.

Eighty-nine politicians, including 35 candidates, were murdered in 22 states in the nine-month period, a 41% decline compared to 2017-18. Still, this electoral season has been the second deadliest since 2000. Fourteen women were among the slain politicians and candidates, while 11 political collaborators and 35 family members of political figures were also killed.

Despite electoral violence exceeding the record set three years ago, López Obrador asserted Wednesday that “the country is at peace.”

Speaking at his regular news conference, the president said there is no risk that insecurity will destabilize municipal, state and federal elections this Sunday.

President Lopez Obrador
President López Obrador told reporters Wednesday that political violence doesn’t exist any longer in Mexico.

“There is governability, there are no risks of instability. We’re fighting the scourge of violence every day and peace and tranquility can be spoken about throughout the country,” López Obrador said.

He claimed that his political adversaries are exaggerating the extent to which politically motivated violence is occurring before going so far as to say that it doesn’t even exist in Mexico.

“… In Mexico, there isn’t political violence. We have achieved this together,” López Obrador said. “As much as they want to exaggerate [the violence], it doesn’t match the reality. As the song of [Cuban singer-songwriter] Pablo [Milanés] says: we don’t live in a perfect society, but there is peace and tranquility in the country.”

Etellekt’s latest political violence report – and 2021 homicide statistics – paint a very different picture.

The 782 acts of politically motivated aggression — among which were threats, homicides, attempted murders, assaults and kidnappings — occurred in 460 municipalities across all 32 states, the report said. The number of victims of those 782 acts was 737.

Of those victims 260 were women.

Just over 70% of the victims, or 518, were political aspirants or officially nominated candidates. Of those, 75% were seeking municipal positions such as mayor or councilor.

Three quarters of the politicians or aspirants who were victims of aggression were opponents of the party in power in the state where the act of aggression against them occurred. Similarly, 75% of the politicians and candidates who were murdered were state government opponents.

“I think that this election will be remembered for that fact — an election in which the opposition was massacred,” Etellekt director Rubén Salazar told the newspaper El Financiero. “… It seems there is an attitude to get rid of everyone who is an opponent.”

The Etellekt report also shows that there was a sharp increase in acts of aggression in May — the final full month of the campaign period. The firm reported 476 incidents to the end of April, meaning that 306 acts of aggression — 39% of the total — occurred just last month.

“This increase is normal because it occurs when we’re in the most intense period of the campaigns,” Salazar said, adding that he hoped there would be no more political assassinations in the final days before voters go to the polls.

Veracruz stands out as having recorded more acts of political violence than any other state.

The Gulf coast state, currently governed by the Morena party’s Cuitláhuac García, led the country for both political homicides and total acts of aggression, with 16 of the former (including the murders of eight candidates) and 117 of the latter.

Oaxaca ranked second for political murders with 11, followed by Guerrero with eight, Guanajuato with seven and Baja California with six.

For total acts of aggression, Oaxaca ranked second with 68, followed by Puebla (58), México state (56), Michoacán and Guerrero (both 43). At the other end of the scale, only two acts of aggression have been reported in each of Durango and Baja California Sur, while Nayarit, Aguascalientes and Coahuila have recorded three, four and five, respectively.

Of the 89 politicians and candidates killed, 39 were affiliated with the Va por México coalition, which is made up of the National Action Party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party and the Democratic Revolution Party. Etellekt said that 25 murder victims were members of the coalition led by Mexico’s ruling party Morena, whose allies are the Labor Party and the Green Party. The other 25 victims were affiliated with other parties or were independents.

Etellekt also reported that 99 public servants who didn’t belong to a political party or have political aspirations were murdered during the election period.

“It’s very probable that several of these 99 deceased people had some kind of electoral function, but they weren’t [party] members. It’s an important piece of information because it warns of the vulnerability of these public servants during the electoral process,” Salazar told El Financiero.

Ruben Salinas Orozco mayor Playa Vicente
Scared off: a month after becoming the PAN mayoral candidate in Playa Vicente, Veracruz, Ruben Salinas quit in May, citing electoral violence. Veracruz had the highest number of politically motivated acts of aggression this election cycle.

Etellekt said the 99 officials worked in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of all three levels of government.

Counting the slain politicians, candidates, political collaborators, family members and public servants, a total of 234 people were killed during the current electoral season. There have also been more than 20,000 homicides since the electoral period began.

Such statistics make debunking López Obrador’s claim of “peace and tranquility” in the whole country an elementary exercise. To disprove the president, one could also point to violence-plagued parts of the country where political campaigning has been extremely difficult if not impossible, such as Aguililla, Michoacán, and the broader Tierra Caliente region.

That’s exactly what Falko Ernst, senior Mexico analyst for the International Crisis Group, did in a Twitter post on Wednesday morning.

“’Peace and tranquility can be spoken about’ in Mexico, López Obrador says in his morning press conference. We found something different in our report about elections and violence in Tierra Caliente,” he wrote. “As a local political consultant told us: ‘You can’t govern without la maña [craftiness or guile].”

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