2 mayoral candidates killed in Mexico, bringing the number slain so far to 17

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Two mayoral candidates in Mexico were found dead Friday, bringing to 17 the number of contenders slain in the lead-up to the June 2 election.

One candidate was killed Friday in the northern Mexico border state of Tamaulipas. Noé Ramos Ferretiz was running for a coalition of the opposition National Action Party and Institutional Revolutionary Party, which had governed Mexico until 2000. He was running for reelection as mayor of the city of Ciudad Mante.

Another mayoral candidate in the southern state of Oaxaca was found dead a day after he was reported missing. Alberto García was running for mayor of the Oaxaca town of San José Independencia.

Oaxaca state prosecutors said García was found dead, apparently beaten to death, on an island in a reservoir near the town. In the past, drug gangs have been active in the area.

The June 2 national elections that are shaping up to be the country’s most violent on record.

Prosecutors in Tamaulipas said Ramos Ferretiz was attacked on Friday, but did not give details beyond saying they’re investigating.

Local media reported he had been stabbed and posted photos showing a bloodied body lying on a sidewalk. Tamaulipas has long been riven by drug cartel turf wars. Ciudad Mante is located in the southern part of the state, relatively far from border cities like Reynosa and Matamoros.

“We will not allow violence to decide these elections,” PRI party leader Alejandro Moreno wrote on social media, where he confirmed the “cowardly assassination” of Ramos Ferretiz.

In Oaxaca, the state electoral board condemned the death of García, who went missing along with his wife — the current mayor of San José Independencia — earlier this week. The wife was found alive.

The electoral board called García's death a “killing,” and said such crimes “should not occur during elections.”

In early April, mayoral candidate Bertha Gaytán was gunned down, hours after she requested protection and started campaigning. Gaytán was fatally shot on a street in a town outside the city of Celaya, in the north-central state of Guanajuato. She had just launched her campaign for Celaya mayor.

Mexico’s drug cartels have often focused assassination attempts on mayors and mayoral candidates, in a bid to control local police or extort money from municipal governments.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador acknowledged in early April that drug cartels often seek to determine who will serve as mayor — either by running their own candidate or eliminating potential rivals.

“They make an agreement and say, ‘this person is going to be mayor; we don’t want anyone else to register to run,’ and anybody who does, well, they know” what to expect, he said.

The recent slayings have prompted the government to provide bodyguards for about 250 candidates, but those running for municipal positions — while the most endangered — are the last in line for security.

Violence against politicians is widespread in Mexico. In early April, the mayor of Churumuco, a town in the neighboring state of Michoacán, was shot to death at a taco restaurant in the state capital, Morelia.

In late February in another town in Michoacán, two mayoral hopefuls were shot to death within hours of each other.


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