Mexico Grapples With Surge in Gang Violence as Largest Elections Inch Closer
Gang violence has once again become rampant in Mexico as the mid-term elections in June are inching closer.
According to local civilians, a series of political assassinations and forced disappearances of thousands have started, with state and federal security forces actively colluding and even fighting alongside warring groups.
This was told by civil society activists and gunmen from various factions, according to The Guardian report. Mexican criminal factions are also confronting each other on the electoral field.
"All the [criminal] groups are trying to make gains right now," a Michoacán political consultant said in the report. The said political consultant has first-hand information on how arrangements are made between organized crime and political candidates.
The western state of Michoacán has faced much of the recent fighting where the Jalisco New Generation cartel has increased its presence. The Jalisco cartel is stepping up its conflict with an alliance of local groups dubbed the United Cartels, Observer reported.
It has caused more than a thousand people to seek asylum in the United States, adding to the current number of people arriving at the southern border.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection preliminary data showed that Mexican nationals accounted for 42 percent of all apprehensions at the border in March.
"They are leaving because they get caught in the crossfire because their homes have been destroyed, [and] because the main roads into [the area] have been carved up to stop the advance of the Jaliscos," Gregorio López, a Catholic priest, said in the report.
López has housed refugees in the nearby Apatzingán city. He said livelihoods become unsustainable and basic goods are not getting through anymore, causing a shortage of fresh food.
The priest added that almost everything has also become more expensive, with gasoline costing three times as much as before.
Drug Cartels and Mexican Election
In 2018, more than 100 politicians were murdered in Mexico just before the election day.
Fernando Puron, a former congressional candidate in the border city of Piedras Negras, was taking a picture with a supporter when a gunman shot him in the head from behind, CNBC reported.
May 2018 was considered one of Mexico's deadliest months since the government first released homicide data 20 years ago. The data showed that 2,890 people were killed in a month, which counts as 93 victims per day or four per hour.
Rafael Elias, an analyst at emerging markets bank Exotix Capital, said that politicians are particularly vulnerable targets of organized crimes.
It happens when they do not show support for illegal activities in the municipalities or territories they are running to govern.
This year, a judge from the southern state of Chiapas who ran for mayor with the Morena party died in March after armed criminals opened fire at them and later burned the vehicle the victims were using.
The judge was killed with his eight-year-old son and a third person, according to an Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting project report.
The 6 June polls are the largest in Mexico's history, with more than 21,000 posts, including 500 federal congressmen, 15 governors, 30 state legislatures.
Since campaign season officially started on Sept. 7 last year, 69 politicians, including 22 candidates, have already been assassinated in Mexico.
WATCH: Violence Surges Ahead of Mexico's Mid term Election - From CGTN America
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