Mexico experiences one of the worst periods of violence in its modern history

18 May 2018 4 min. read

The Mexican presidential campaign is well under away with the elections to be held on the 1st of June 2018. The beginning of the campaign has however coincided with the release of a recent report titled ‘Political Violence in Mexico 2018’. The report, which is the fourth of its kind, was released by D.F. based strategic advisory and political risk consultancy Etellekt.

Political violence has already made its mark on the Mexican elections with 305 acts of aggression against Mexican political actors and their families by the 8th of September 2017. The beginning of the electoral process brought on the violence as disputes between criminal gangs and narco-traffickers attempted to influence a change in political power.

The elections themselves will see a new president in the Republic of Mexico as well as the re-election of the Mexican Congress, eight governors, the Head of Government of Mexico D.F., local deputies and some 1,600 mayors in 30 of the 32 states in the country. Due to the weight of potential change in political power across country, the consultancy has identified that the number of threats against candidates have increased through various means of intimidation.

The fourth version of the report identifies new statistics about the capacity of the violence as well as the perpetrators. These new variables contain insights into the methods used, highlighting that there was a significant portion of victims subjected to kidnapping and found with signs of extreme trauma.

Organized criminals have been cited as the highest category of violent perpetrators, with Etellekt identifying gangs using it as a ‘modus operandi’. Up to 66% of cases have been linked to organized crime through the use of high-powered weapons in attacks, the participation of armed groups, and the use of torture.

Apart from a period in 1994, the violence seen since the beginning of the Mexican electoral period has been the highest level of political violence before an election in the modern era. 

"What defines this electoral process is all this violence that has been focused on doing away with a candidate through violent measures, taking his life, for example, or through threats," said Rubén Salazar, the Director of Etellekt.

Of the 305 attacks on political actors and their families there have been 93 murders with political and electoral overtones. Of these murders, the victims were 30 pre-candidates stand out and six candidates, in addition to elected authorities, party leaders and 44 family members. 

Etellekt consultancy’s map of political murders in lead-up to Mexico’s presidential election 2018

Local & municipal pre-candidates targeted

Whilst the figures indicate a defined level of interference with the democratic process from criminal groups, the violence has been contained in less than 10% of the country’s municipalities. The murders are distributed in 19 localities within which Guerrero is the most violent with 21 murders of political actors in 8 months. Following Guerrero is Oaxaca (16), Puebla (10), Veracruz (8), State of Mexico (7) and Chihuahua (5).

The majority of the murders that have occurred have been of both pre-candidates running for local or municipal seats. “Of these 93 murders, 80 are municipal, that's where the violence is concentrated, the weakest link in the entire institutional apparatus is still the municipal level. The risk exists for this same expansion of geographic violence," Salazar said. 

The consultant believes that presidential and political candidates must have a greater degree of protection in place. "This does not speak well of the Mexican democracy, nor of the authorities in letting that type of situations pass.” Salazar went on to further criticize the the authorities, saying that “they are attending the campaigns of their parties instead of providing security to all participants.” 

Etellekt analyzes the main patterns of violence after the official start of campaigns and in addition identifies the greatest risk scenarios for the election day of July 1st. The consulting firm attempts to remain apolitical and independent in its conducting of the analysis by appending the names of each politician in their Political Violence Indicator. The report intends to bring awareness into the public sphere for both public and private sectors, strategic information that will contribute to the prevalence of democratic governance and trade competitiveness in Mexico.