Fears for Mexican politicians’ safety amid rising violence

World Today

In Mexico, a recently-elected Congresswoman who was kidnapped by gunmen has been set free. It’s a happy ending to what’s normally a nightmare. But fears linger that other Mexican politicians will become targets of organized crime. CGTN’s Franc Contreras reports.

Local media report that Norma Azucena Rodriquez is safe at home now. But fears linger that other Mexican politicians will become targets of organized crime.

Gunmen ambushed Rodriguez’s vehicle on a highway in Hidalgo state on Tuesday. On that same highway, a small-town mayor, Genaro Negrete was kidnapped in July. Gunmen seized his vehicle along with the mayor. Last week, police found his bullet-ridden body.

Both crimes occurred in a region where rival organized crime groups are battling each other.

Nearly 29,000 people were murdered in Mexico in 2017 – a record high. And the trend continues in 2018. Over the past year, more than 130 of those killed have either been political candidates or elected officials.

Since late 2006, the Mexican government has been using the Army, Navy and Marines to combat drug traffickers.

But Mexico’s President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador questions the policy of using Mexican security forces to fight crime.

“The problem of insecurity will not be solved with more massacres,” Obrador said. “Violence cannot be solved with violence. The bad cannot be solved with the bad. I don’t believe in the maxim of an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth.”

Surveillance video captured a particularly graphic political killing earlier this year in the northern city of Torreon. The gunman remains free.

Security expert Clemente Romero of the Common Cause think tank said, “The majority of politicians who have been victims of crime have been candidates or office-holders at the municipal level in places that don’t get much attention. They have no body guards.”

Following her release, it’s unclear whether a ransom was paid to rescue Congresswoman-elect Norman Azucena Rodriguez. A spokesperson for the Party of the Democratic Revolution says the Congresswoman-elect plans to attend the swearing in ceremony for Mexico’s new Congress scheduled for September first.