Politicians Murdered in First Week of 2024 Spark Concerns of Election Violence in Mexico

CUAUTLA, MORELOS — The first week of January has seen the tragic murders of three men who had aspirations of standing as candidates in local and state elections set to take place in June. Alfredo Giovanni Lezama Barrera, a councilor in Cuautla, Morelos, was the first to be killed, as he hoped to become a National Action Party (PAN) deputy in the state Congress. The 37-year-old was shot and killed at a Cuautla gymnasium. His murder was followed by the homicides of mayoral aspirants David Rey González, 54, and Sergio Hueso, 35, in separate incidents in Chiapas and Colima, respectively.

The three victims were all seeking political positions in the upcoming elections, with Rey González aiming to represent multiple parties in the mayoral election, and Hueso hoping to stand as the Citizens Movement party candidate.

With no arrests reported in any of the cases, these murders raise concerns about the safety of aspiring political candidates in Mexico. They come just five months before the June 2 elections, which are expected to be the largest in the country’s history, with over 19,000 people set to be elected to various government positions.

The violence against political candidates is not a new issue in Mexico, with the 2018 elections being the most violent in the country’s history, seeing the murder of 48 candidates. The current wave of violence has led to fears that the number of homicides and non-lethal aggressions could reach new records.

These tragic events have sparked reactions from various political figures, with Xóchitl Gálvez expressing concern about the murders and criticizing the response of ruling party politicians. Claudia Sheinbaum, the ruling Morena party candidate, has continued to assure the public of a peaceful election and has reiterated the government’s commitment to addressing the country’s security challenges.

Despite a decline in homicides in the first 11 months of 2023 in comparison to the same period in 2022, the murder numbers remain alarmingly high, with over 27,000 cases reported.

The murders of these aspiring candidates in the first week of January serve as a grim reminder of the risks that individuals face when pursuing political office in Mexico. The upcoming elections bring the issue of political violence to the forefront, raising important questions about the safety and security of those involved in the democratic process in the country.