Posted on June 3, 2024

Mexico Holds Historic Election in Race Largely Overshadowed by Violence

NBC, June 2, 2024

Voters in Mexico are participating in the country’s largest election ever — casting votes Sunday to fill more than 20,000 local, state and federal positions and almost certainly elect their first female president.

But rampant violence has marred the road toward one of the most consequential elections in Mexico’s history.

Criminal groups have taken over large parts of Mexico as they fight for territory to traffic drugs into the U.S., make money from migrant smuggling, and extort residents to fuel their illicit enterprise. Violence against political figures has also persisted throughout this election cycle, resulting in a 150% increase in the number of victims of political violence since 2021 {snip}


Both front-running presidential candidates — Claudia Sheinbaum of Mexico’s governing political party, Morena, and Xóchitl Gálvez, of the opposition coalition Broad Front for Mexico — have drastically different ideas on the best way to reduce crime.


Sheinbaum, the former mayor of Mexico City and a physicist and climate scientist, has said she plans to combat violence by continuing the policy of “hugs, not bullets” implemented by her mentor, outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, that does not directly take on the cartels as had been done in previous administrations.

Before López Obrador, “there was at least a rhetorical intention by the Mexican government and the local governments to do something” about the violence, said Tony Payan, director for the Center for the U.S. and Mexico at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. “But ever since Mr. Lopez Obrador took office at the end of 2018, that discourse has completely shifted…These criminals feel that they can do almost anything they want to and the state will not go after them.”

López Obrador’s policy has not significantly reduced killings over the past six years, as Mexican government data shows that at least 102,400 homicides have been reported over that period.