A mayoral candidate in northern Mexico has been killed on the same day she posted a Facebook Live video sharing her exact whereabouts on the campaign trail and inviting voters to come and speak to her.
Alma Barragan was killed while campaigning to be mayor of the city of Moroleon in violence-plagued Guanajuato state. The 61-year-old was a relative newcomer to politics.
In a video she posted on social media on Tuesday morning, she named the street she was on and said: “Here I am waiting for you to talk about my proposals.”
Less than an hour later she was shot dead on the street.
She was running as a member of the Citizen’s Movement Party, and was the third candidate from the party to be killed in the last 15 days.
Her death brings the number of candidates murdered nationwide ahead of the June 6 elections to 34.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the killing was “without doubt” the work of organised crime gangs to scare voters away from the polls.
“When there is a lot of abstentionism, the mafias dominate the elections,” he said.
Experts say drug gangs want to place sympathetic candidates in high-profile posts in town halls and local governments, so they can extort money from their budgets and operate without interference from the police.
Barragan was running on the ticket of the small Citizen’s Movement party, which said in a statement: “It is unthinkable that participating in political life means putting one’s life at risk. This is the most violent election in Mexican history, and in Citizen’s Movement we are not willing to act as if that is normal.”
The bloodshed has underlined Lopez Obrador’s difficulty in containing gang-fueled violence, reports Reuters.
For the past two months, public security has been seen as the main problem facing Mexico, with two out of three Mexicans saying the government is handling it poorly, according to a survey for newspaper El Financiero published this month.
While Lopez Obrador remains popular, support for him is falling. The El Financiero poll showed his approval rating dropped four percentage points between March and April to 57%.
His office did not reply to a request for comment on the political violence and how it affected his administration.
On June 6, Mexicans nationwide will elect 500 federal lawmakers, 15 state governors and thousands of mayors and local officials.
Since the election process began last September, 85 politicians have been murdered, including the 34 who were running for office, according to Etellekt Consultores, which tracks campaign violence.
According to Etellekt, most of the victims were candidates for mayorships from parties in opposition to the incumbents.
Their deaths have laid bare the deep-rooted ties between organised crime groups and the local officials who protect them.
“We’re all fed up that criminals control our streets,” said Abel Murrieta in early May, a former prosecutor and mayoral candidate running on a tough-on-crime platform.
In mid May, the 58-year-old was handing out leaflets on a crowded street corner when he was shot 10 times in the face, neck and chest.
The state prosecutors’ office did not say how he died, but a video showed him sprawled on the sidewalk, covered in blood and surrounded by spent shell casings.