Cartels Threaten Mexico’s Democracy As Election Violence Soars

Mexico’s elections have become a literal battleground as organized crime groups target candidates and voters in an effort to control local governments. The campaign leading up to the June 2 vote has been one of the deadliest in the country’s modern history.

Cartels are no longer focused solely on shipping drugs to the United States. They now also smuggle migrants extort businesses and win contracts for firms they control. Controlling mayor’s offices is crucial to their operations.

In some areas cartels wield so much power they can decide who can enter towns or even what people may say out loud. “They don’t like it when you talk about the organized crime violence the extortion the people forced out of their communities,” said Willy Ochoa a Senate candidate in Chiapas state.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador accuses the opposition and media of exaggerating the violence but even his protégé presidential front-runner Claudia Sheinbaum was stopped by masked men last month in a region of Chiapas controlled by the Sinaloa cartel.

Assassins have targeted candidates from all of Mexico’s major parties. In Maravatío a municipality of 80,000 in the central state of Michoacan three candidates for mayor have been killed two from López Obrador’s party Morena and one from the opposition National Action Party.