Tragic Twist: Mexican Mayoral Candidate Shot Dead Despite Continuous Pleas For Protection

By Jennifer Wentworth | Thursday, 04 April 2024 08:30 AM
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In a shocking incident that underscores the escalating political violence in Mexico, Gisela Gaytan, a mayoral candidate from the ruling National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party, was assassinated during a campaign rally in Celaya, Guanajuato, on Monday.

The incident occurred despite Gaytan's previous requests for security protection, which were left unanswered by the authorities.

Gaytan, a 38-year-old former litigator and the only female candidate in Celaya, was presenting her security strategy plan when gunmen opened fire, killing her instantly. Celaya is known as one of the deadliest cities globally and one of the most dangerous places for police officers in North America.

The state prosecutor's office in Guanajuato has launched an investigation into the murder, but no arrests have been made so far. The motive behind the attack remains unclear. However, Guanajuato has witnessed a surge in homicides and turf wars between criminal groups in recent years.

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Security analysts suggest that electoral violence is most prevalent at the municipal level, where criminal gangs seek to influence election outcomes to gain control over illicit activities such as drug trafficking.

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"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 Sanchez, a security and politics expert at the College of the Northern Border. "It is still organized crime groups that decide who the candidates are."

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Political violence has been a recurring issue in Mexican elections, with data indicating a worsening trend. Civic Data, a research organization based in Mexico City, reported a 236% increase in political electoral violence in Mexico between 2018 and 2023.

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A report by Integralia, a political risk consultancy, found that 24 aspiring electoral candidates were assassinated between September 1 and April 1. The government also confirmed that 14 individuals who had publicly announced their intention to run in elections had been killed since October 2023.

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In a video circulating on social media, supporters at Gaytan's rally can be seen waving party flags and chanting "Morena, Morena," in support of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's ruling party. The video abruptly ends with the sound of six gunshots, followed by the crowd dispersing in panic.

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Adrian Guerrero, a MORENA candidate for city council, was reported missing following the attack, and two other individuals were injured.

Earlier on Monday, Gaytan had informed reporters that her party had requested security from the state for her campaign. "We are looking at the issue to see how it can be resolved," she said. "Let's see if they have an answer for us today."

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Rosa Icela Rodriguez, the Security Minister, pledged justice for Gaytan during a press conference on Tuesday. She also announced an inquiry into why the slain candidate had not received protection from state or municipal authorities, despite requests. Rodriguez confirmed that MORENA had sought security measures for all its candidates from the National Electoral Institute (INE) in early March. However, Guanajuato's state electoral body had yet to initiate the necessary procedures for implementing these security protocols.

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