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The electoral institute's Baños. The electoral institute's Baños: better security measures needed.

Worries over election officials’ safety after Guerrero assassination

An electoral supervisor was shot and killed while traveling in the municipality of Alpoyeca

There are worries over safety among the more than 36,000 employees of the National Electoral Institute (INE) following Sunday’s murder of an election official.

Jorge Nájera García, an electoral supervisor in the state, was shot and killed while traveling on the Tlapa-Puebla federal highway in the municipality of Alpoyeca.

Nájera was assigned to an electoral district that includes the notoriously violent municipality of Chilapa and was returning home when armed men intercepted his vehicle.

He sustained nine bullet wounds from a 9-millimeter handgun. The identities of the assailants and the motive for the crime are unknown.

Another election official working in Guanajuato was previously shot in the leg but he was not seriously wounded and has since returned to his electoral duties in that state.

Apart from those two incidents, the only other violence the INE has reported against its officials are 250 attacks by dog, which occurred while they knocked on the doors of 11.1 million homes to inform citizens that they had been selected to work at a polling station on election day.

But now the president of the INE’s Organization and Training Committee has recognized the need to improve security conditions for the institute’s employees.

Asked by the newspaper Milenio whether Nájera’s murder had triggered red flags within the INE, Marco Antonio Baños responded emphatically.

“Without a doubt, yes. We are conscious that we have to implement better security measures for our personnel. We’ve already spoken to the relevant authorities and we’re going to see what additional measures can be taken,” he said.

Security protocols already in place demand that officials never work alone in areas that are considered dangerous and that they stop working before nightfall.

“It’s an appalling incident, reprehensible, the INE will never endorse acts of violence and even less so . . .  [when they involve] people who are carrying out an activity as important as the staffing of the polling stations,” he said.

Baños said that steps have already been taken so that Nájera’s family can access benefits provided for in the deceased’s life insurance policy.

Earlier this month, Guerrero Governor Héctor Astudillo warned 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 represent.

The murder of a candidate for state Congress on May 8 was the 18th political assassination in Guerrero since the electoral process started last September, according to risk analysis firm Etellekt.

In its most recent political violence report published on May 10, Etellekt said that at least 93 politicians or candidates have been killed in the past eight months. A further 44 family members of political actors have been murdered in the same period.

This week, a Morena party candidate for mayor in Chiapas reported that armed men opened fire on his vehicle in the municipality of Suchiate and five candidates in Chihuahua requested protection while they continue to campaign.

A total of 80 candidates in the northern border state have withdrawn from the elections due to security concerns.

A 41-year-old man was killed in the immediate vicinity of an Ecological Green Party rally in Silao, Guanajuato, yesterday by an unidentified gunman on a motorcycle and on Monday a former attorney general of Jalisco came under attack in Guadalajara from an estimated 12 armed civilians.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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