Why Are So Many Mexican Election Candidates Getting Killed?

One candidate was shot multiple times as he worked out at the gym. Another died after gunmen opened fire during her campaign rally. A third was walking the streets with her supporters when gunfire broke out.

Across Mexico, dozens of candidates, their relatives and party members have been targeted in violent attacks ahead of next month’s general election, which will be the country’s largest election ever in terms of voters and seats. At least 36 people seeking office have been killed since last June, a New York Times analysis found.

It’s a gruesome milestone even for Mexico, where violence has been a part of campaign seasons for decades.

Why is election violence so bad?

The surge in violence plaguing Mexico can largely be traced to local criminal groups, according to security analysts and law enforcement officials.

The fracturing of Mexico’s larger organized crime syndicates has given rise to rival gangs locked in fierce battles for power and territory. In their quests for dominance, these gangs have resorted to co-opting and intimidating the authorities to exert control over communities — an attempt to secure protection, obtain valuable information and grow their operations.

A sharp increase in violence during elections is not unusual in Mexico. In the last election cycle, in 2021, when voters across the country cast ballots for more than 19,900 local posts, at least 32 candidates were killed, according to a study published by the College of Mexico, a university in Mexico City.

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