Violence hit a record peak in Mexico last year with over 30,000 murders — and it is not slowing down. More than 100 politicians alone have been killed in the lead-up to the country’s election this Sunday.
Public officials and activists in Mexico face deadly threats even in broad daylight. Fernando Puron, a congressional candidate in the border city of Piedras Negras, was taking a selfie with a supporter when a gunman shot him in the head from behind. He was the 112th political hopeful to be killed since September.
The deaths reveal the depth of a crisis Mexico has failed to control: organized crime and criminal infiltration of local governments and law enforcement. And ahead of this weekend’s presidential and congressional elections, no candidate has been able to offer a credible plan to fight it.
May was the deadliest month in Mexico since the government first published homicide data 20 years ago, the latest record in what’s been three straight years of increasing crime rates. According to the national registry, 2,890 people were killed in one month — roughly 93 victims per day, or four per hour. Since January, the figure is 13,298: a 21 percent increase on the same period last year.
The wave of murders, kidnappings and gang-related violence began during the administration of former president Felipe Calderon (2006-2012), who launched the government’s war against drug cartels. Organized crime, predominantly drug trafficking, exploded into broader criminal activities including theft, extortion, murder and state-level corruption, and despite billions spent and massive cash injections from the U.S., Mexico has become only more dangerous.