Political violence escalates in Mexico as MORENA candidate Gisela Gaytán is assassinated during campaign

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In a tragic turn of events, a mayoral candidate for Mexico’s ruling party was fatally shot during the early stages of her campaign in central Mexico. Gisela Gaytán, the candidate for the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party, was presenting her security strategy plan at a rally in Celaya, Guanajuato, when gunmen opened fire, killing her instantly. The incident also initially reported a city council candidate as fatally shot, but the security ministry later clarified the person was missing.

Despite having requested security protection from authorities, Gaytán received no response, highlighting the challenges and dangers faced by political candidates in Mexico. The reasons behind the attack remain unclear, but Guanajuato state has been plagued by high levels of violence in recent years, with criminal groups engaged in turf wars.

According to security analysts, electoral violence in Mexico often occurs at the municipal level, where criminal groups seek to influence outcomes to gain more control over illegal activities such as drug trafficking. “It is increasingly clear who exercises real power in the territories where there is crime, it does not matter which party is in power,” said Vicente Sánchez, an expert in security and politics.

Mexico has a long history of political violence, with the situation appearing to worsen in recent years. Figures from Civic Data, a Mexico City-based research organization, show a 236% increase in political electoral violence between 2018 and 2023. This trend was further highlighted by a report from Integralia, which found that 24 aspiring electoral candidates were killed between September 1 and April 1.

The assassination of Gaytán, a former litigator and the only female candidate in Celaya, underscores the dangers faced by politicians in Mexico, particularly in areas marked by high levels of violence. The attack also raises questions about the effectiveness of security measures for political candidates and the government’s ability to ensure their safety.

In response to the incident, Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodríguez promised justice and announced an investigation into why Gaytán had not received protection from state or municipal authorities. The tragedy serves as a grim reminder of the challenges posed by political violence in Mexico and the urgent need for measures to protect candidates and ensure the integrity of the electoral process.

(Source: The Guardian | NBC News | CNN)

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