22 political candidates killed in Mexico’s deadliest elections so far


Mayoral candidate Gisela Gaytan was shot to death this week as she began her campaign in the Mexican city of Celaya in central Guanajuato state.

Her murder is the latest in a killing spree during the 2023-2024 election period that has left 22 candidates dead.

Electoral violence in Mexico has increased in this general election year, with members of organized crime attacking and threatening all political parties.

Gaytan was a mayoral candidate for Mexico’s ruling party, Morena, for Celaya, one of the country’s most violent municipalities. She was just beginning her campaign when she was murdered.

According to Ricardo Sheffield, Morena’s Senate candidate for Guanajuato, protection was requested for Gaytan and other candidates for local offices in the state to no avail.

At a press conference, Sheffield accused Guanajuato Governor Diego Sinhue Rodriguez Vallejo of not taking the necessary steps to protect local candidates, since it is “the most insecure state in all of Mexico.”

By March, Guanajuato ranked as the most violent state in the country, racking up 401 homicides in the first three months of the year. With Gaytan’s murder, the state has reported two assassinations of mayoral candidates.

On Oct. 12, 2023, Alejandro Lanuza Hernandez, a candidate for mayor of the city of Salvatierra in Guanajuato for the National Action Party (PAN), was also killed.

Since 2023, the majority attacks by criminal groups have been against mayoral candidates, accounting for 18 of 22 murders. To a lesser extent, there have been reports of assassinations of candidates for federal and local offices.

Although all seven political parties in Mexico have suffered from electoral violence, the Morena party has reported the most murders, with four candidates being killed during this year’s campaign trails.

The state with the most reported murders of mayoral candidates is Guerrero in the southwest of the country, with five candidates killed, followed by Michoacan with three murders and Guanajuato, Jalisco, Veracruz, Chiapas and the State of Mexico with two cases each.

General elections are scheduled to be held in Mexico on June 2. Voters will elect a new president to serve a six-year term, all 500 members of the Chamber of Deputies and all 128 members of the Senate of the Republic.

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