As Election Nears, Mexico’s Campaign Trail Is Increasingly Bloody

Ahead of the July 1 presidential election, cartels are increasing their presence in political affairs and instilling fear in nonaffiliated candidates.

By Jill AmentMay 30, 2018 11:17 am,

Mexican citizens are preparing to elect a new president on July 1. The campaigns of dozens of lesser-known, and down-ballot candidates have been plagued by assassinations. Many of the candidates remaining are affiliated with cartels.

Jeremy Schwartz writes about military, veteran and border security issues for the Austin American-Statesman. He says at least 35 candidates have been assassinated since September. The number is greater if current officeholders are included. He says cartels are an influence in these assassinations.

“As their heads get arrested or killed, the groups themselves get smaller,” he says, “And as they get smaller, they delve more into other money-making activities.”

Schwartz says controlling a local government has benefits to a cartel.

“You don’t have local police interfering with what you’re doing,” he says “You also get a taste of the resources that are coming through those budgets – the federal money that in some cases is going to poverty reduction or road building. They are now seeking a percentage of those budgets.”

While there hasn’t been an attempt to assassinate any presidential candidates, the possibility is an increasing concern. Many Mexican citizens have accepted violence as a way of life. Schwartz says over 1,000 candidates have dropped out of campaigns across the country, and the remaining candidates are affiliated with cartels.

“This is obviously an opening for cartels and criminal groups to get their hands on the political process in a way that they were unable to do a few years ago,” he says.

Written by Amber Chavez.