The Week (US)

How can you vote while bullets fly?


Elena Reina

That was the bloodiest political campaign in Mexican history, said Elena Reina. In the months leading up to this week’s legislativ­e and municipal elections, at least 35 candidates were killed and 782 others attacked or threatened. Eighteen candidates for various offices withdrew in fear after having their cars or homes shot up or their family members kidnapped. Francisca Morales abandoned her bid to become mayor of Mixtla de Altamirano after her husband was killed and his “dismembere­d corpse thrown into a gutter.” In Michoacán, “the epicenter of the war on drug cartels,” residents of some 40 towns couldn’t vote at all, because state

electoral bodies deemed it too dangerous to even set up a polling station. Guillermo Valencia, who lost his bid for the mayorship in the Michoacán town of Morelia, had to campaign in a bulletproo­f vest after his car was riddled with bullets and two aides were wounded. The attacks were almost certainly carried out by cartels that want to eliminate independen­t candidates and boost the electoral chances of their favored politician­s. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador insists that the country is “at peace” and that the election was free and fair. But how can there be “decent space for democracy” in the face of such “extreme violence”?

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