A group of candidates running for office for the same party in a municipality in the notoriously-violent Tierra Caliente region of Guerrero have quit just two weeks after they replaced another contingent of candidates who also resigned en masse.
Off the record, party officials are saying the resignations are probably due to threats by organized crime.
The 11 Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) candidates (or their substitutes) had been nominated to stand for mayor, trustee and councilor positions in Cutzamala de Pinzón, one of nine municipalities that make up the Guerrero portion of the tri-state Tierra Caliente.
Their candidacies were registered with electoral authorities on May 31.
Arturo Pacheco Bedolla, a PRD representative at the Guerrero Electoral Institute (IEPCG), said he didn’t know why the candidates had quit, adding that the party’s previous group of aspirants didn’t reveal their reasons for withdrawing either.
But the fear of becoming a victim of political violence — at least 113 politicians and candidates have been killed during the current election period starting last September — and/or coercion from criminal groups are likely factors, according to a PRD official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Last month, Guerrero Governor Héctor Astudillo warned that that organized crime is seeking to influence the electoral process in the state in order to gain control of the next generation of mayors and members of state Congress and the regions they will represent.
In a radio interview, Astudillo explained that “criminal groups don’t only try to extort money [from politicians] but also to control territory through the authorities,” citing the Tierra Caliente region as a prime example.
Pacheco Bedolla explained that in accordance with the state’s electoral laws, candidates who quit voluntarily cannot be replaced after a May 31 cut-off. Only those forced to withdraw due to death or mental illness can be substituted.
But the PRD official charged that the legislation is unconstitutional and said the party would challenge it before both state and federal electoral authorities with the intention of nominating a third list of candidates.
On May 31, the IEPCG approved the replacement of 477 municipal and state candidates who had voluntarily decided to pull out of the July 1 elections.
The full lists of candidates for the PRD and the Morena party in the municipality of Pedro Ascencio Alquisiras — located in the north of Guerrero — were among those who quit the race.
According to risk analysis firm Etellekt, 23 politicians or candidates have been assassinated in Guerrero since September, the highest toll of any state in the country. An election official was also murdered in Guerrero last month.
More than 8,000 candidates will appear on ballots in the southern state to contest elected positions in 81 municipalities as well as seats in the Guerrero and federal congresses.