By Tyler Bauer
In recent weeks, nearly all of us have come across Mexico in the news at one point or another. If you’ve been living under a rock, just Google “family separations at the border” and you’ll have plenty of reading material to get you through the weekend. While immigration and the separation of children from their parents both make for interesting news, there is an important, overlooked event going on in Mexico – the nationwide elections on July 1st.
Any nationwide election is worthy of coverage, but this election day is notable for a particularly gruesome reason. Well over one hundred political candidates have been murdered since September, with more potentially being targeted before the polls open Sunday. Political candidates and activists are regularly being murdered in broad daylight – one candidate was recently shot in the back of the head while taking a selfie with a supporter.
Things have gotten much worse in Mexico as the elections have come closer. This May was the deadliest in the country’s history, finishing with a total of 2,980 murder victims. That’s 93 murders every day or four murders per hour. Last year ended with over 30,000 murders, making it the deadliest year in recorded history (one cannot help but link violent crime rates and increases in immigration to the United States). So far this year, there has been a twenty-one percent increase in murders, meaning this year’s murder total could easily surpass last year’s record high.
The uptick in murders has been attributed to increased cartel and gang violence throughout the country. While cartel and gang violence are not necessarily new to Mexico, the targeting of political candidates and activists is. Many virtuous politicians want to reduce crime rates and make a safer, more prosperous Mexico. Politicians and activists unwilling to ignore crime are becoming prime targets for cartels and gangs.
As for the outcome of the elections, one thing is for sure – no matter who wins, all politicians will have a huge mess to clean up. Some pundits are speculating that the extreme level of political violence present in Mexico could convince some voters to stay home, meaning turnout levels could be especially low this time around, making these elections harder to predict.