The internet has been a boon for a candidate for mayor of Pungarabato, Guerrero: he can campaign without even entering the municipality — and stay alive.
Luis Avellaneda Pineda isn’t even in the state, he told the newspaper Milenio in an interview, for fear that a criminal gang would follow through on its threats against him.
He takes those threats seriously: his father, a melon farmer, was assassinated in 2012 in Rivapalacio, a neighboring municipality in Michoacán.
Earlier this month, voters in Pungarabato were wondering where the Morena party’s candidate was. He didn’t even show up when party leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador visited for a campaign rally on June 2 at the municipal seat, Ciudad Altamirano.
Publicly, party leaders too wondered where Avellaneda was. Privately, it was commonly known: gangsters had threatened that they would make him disappear.
The 45-day election campaign has come to an end and Avellaneda has made no public appearances.
“I had to leave the municipality for reasons of security, threats and other things,” he told Milenio. “I am outside the state and from here I’m conducting my campaign on the internet, and with friends who want real change.”
Working through social media is the only way to avoid physical risk, he said.
Some candidates who remained in their communities “are no more,” he said, having lost their lives.
The virtual candidate said the threats against him were made first on the telephone, but later they were made in person.
That was when he and his family left town.
Pungarabato is not the only municipality where candidates have opted not to campaign, Animal Político reported. Anonymous sources within Morena said it was the same story in Arcelia, Apaxtla de Castrejón, Eduardo Neri and Quechultenango.
Their caution is not without justification. According to the latest tally, 48 candidates have been assassinated since last September.