”Ballot Boxes and Graves”: College of Mexico Warns of a Violent Scenario in Elections

College of Mexico researcher Sergio Aguayo presents the study “Ballot Boxes and Graves” on violence in the 2021 elections, which warns of increasing crime in the 2024 electoral process.

Having analyzed the 32 murders of candidates for elected office in the 2021 elections, the Violence and Peace Seminar of the College of Mexico warns that electoral violence is affecting Mexican democracy, by reducing the options of the electorate and causing fear among candidates and voters.

Impunity is one of the characteristic features detected by the researchers of this project in the murders recorded in the elections three years ago.

In addition to this, there are four features that characterize most of the documented and analyzed murders:

“First, the lethal electoral violence is eminently local, because 85 percent of the 32 victims were competing for municipal positions. Second, these attacks are normally against opponents of the current mayor, as occurred in 25 of the 32 cases. Third, electoral homicides generally occur without warning and in quick attacks: there were no prior threats in 28 of 32 cases and they are fulminant attacks: 29 of the 32 homicides were executions by shooting. Fourth, although the attacks occurred throughout the electoral process – from September 2020 to June 2021 – it is evident that the transition from pre-candidacies to candidacies, in March 2021, was the key moment for the violence.

The Seminar on Violence and Peace investigated the murder of 32 candidates; from that of Juan Jaramillo Frikas, candidate for federal deputy in Morelos, which occurred on September 20th, 2020, to that of Ricardo Almaraz, who had already been elected substitute trustee in Tepotzotlán, State of Mexico, and was killed on June 7th, 2021.

In the general results, the study indicates that in 15 states there was at least one homicide (the most lethal state was Veracruz, with nine cases).

All parties had victims, although MORENA was the most affected, with eight cases, followed by Movimiento Ciudadano, with six. In 15 of 32 cases there were arrests; However, there is no evidence that there have been final sentences against the alleged murderers and intellectual authors.

One of the most novel findings of this study has to do with the political position of the victims in the electoral process, resulting in the majority competing as opponents: 25 of 32 candidates were opponents of the municipal government and, of them, 17 were also from parties opposing the state government. Another five were from the same party as the municipal government, but opposed to the state government. That is, only two were from the same party as the municipal and state governments.

“The perpetrators only murdered two completely pro-government victims. This finding coincides with other studies on violence in Mexico and is summarized in one sentence: power continues to be fought for with bullets,” concludes the study presented today at COLMEX.

“Democracy is clouded”: academics from the College of Mexico warn

The project, coordinated by academic Sergio Aguayo and in which 23 more researchers participated, warns that the evidence from the 2021 federal and local elections points towards an exponential increase in violence, which paints a complicated picture for 2024.

“Such high levels of violence are clouding the quality of democracy and governance in the country. In particular, electoral violence, that intentionally implemented by the perpetrators to modify both the results and the electoral processes, distorts the virtues of a democratic regime. The outlook is black and murky for the Mexican elections. If we take into account that one of the greatest achievements of the Mexican transition to democracy was its peaceful nature, the growing electoral violence is increasingly disturbing both for democracy and for the electoral institutions in Mexico.’’

Finally, the research project seeks to explain the causes of electoral violence, and concludes that criminal logic is not the only one responsible. In fact, only 11 of 32 homicides can be clearly attributed to criminal organizations.

In another 11 cases, investigators concluded that the perpetrators sought a benefit in the electoral contest; in six cases, criminal and political reasons were mixed, and in four the causes were personal.

“These data are very serious for several reasons. First, criminal organizations have effectively limited Mexican democracy, having the ability to decide who has the right to compete and who does not. Secondly, the parties are not only not up to the challenge, but they themselves are resolving the struggle for power with bullets. In other words, they have not only let criminal organizations fill power vacuums, especially local ones, but they are replicating their techniques to resolve the struggle for public power. Third, the degree of decomposition of Mexican democracy means that the line between political and criminal activities becomes blurred with alarming frequency.

Original article at https://animalpolitico.com/elecciones-2024/presidencia/colegio-de-mexico-elecciones-violencia
Translated by Schools for Chiapas.

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