Did 37 candidate assassinations shape the election of Mexico’s first female president?

In what has become the bloodiest election season in Mexico’s modern history, a candidate running for local office in Puebla state was murdered on Friday, bringing the total number of assassinated candidates to 37 ahead of Sunday’s vote.

Jorge Huerta Cabrera, who was vying for a council seat in Izucar de Matamoros, was gunned down during a political rally, according to the state prosecutor’s office. This incident marked the 37th assassination in the 2024 election cycle, surpassing the 36 candidates killed during the 2021 midterm elections, as reported by security consultancy Integralia.

Violent crime has become a pivotal issue in this year’s presidential contest. The ruling party, led by outgoing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is under scrutiny for the persistently high murder rates. The opposition has leveraged the ongoing violence to push for change.

Claudia Sheinbaum, the ruling party’s candidate, became Mexico’s first female president on Sunday. Armando Vargas, a researcher at Integralia, commented, “It’s possible that violence is being used as a means to define the election in advance, particularly when certain interests are perceived to be at risk in the event that a particular political project triumphs.”

Integralia’s data also reveals a surge in non-lethal attacks on candidates, with 828 incidents recorded this season, up from 749 since May 27. Analysts attribute the dangers faced by candidates to the combination of powerful drug cartels and often corrupt local governments.

In another incident last week, a local mayoral candidate in Guerrero state was shot at point-blank range during a campaign rally. Due to ongoing threats, 560 candidates and election officials had been provided with security guards by the government.

The assassination of Huerta Cabrera on Friday was captured on video, showing chaos erupting at the rally as shots were fired. In a related act of violence, the mayor of Cotija, Yolanda Sanchez Figueroa, and her bodyguard were killed on Monday, just 24 hours after Claudia Sheinbaum was elected Mexico’s first female president. The Michoacan state government condemned the murder, expressing outrage over the assassination of their municipal president.

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