Mexican gubernatorial candidate of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) Rodolfo Torre Cantu was killed on June 28th in an ambush less than a week before the elections.
While the United States prepares its annual July 4 celebration, Mexico
will hold its own date with history on the same day.
In a dozen states, voters will go to the polls to elect local and state
officials. Coming one year after mid-term Congressional elections that
delivered a stinging defeat to President Calderon’s National Action Party
(PAN) and two years before the presidential election of 2012, when some
analysts predict a victory of the former ruling Institutional
Revolutionary Party (PRI), this year’s contests represent an important
highway marker in Mexico’s political roadmap.
More importantly, the 2010 elections are an important gauge in the health
of Mexico’s official transition from an authoritarian state to a plural
democracy in which human rights, transparency and the rule of law are
upheld. But if this year’s campaigns are any indication of the country’s
political direction, the compass is fast spinning backwards.
The June 28 assassination of Rodolfo Torre Cantu, the front-running
gubernatorial candidate for the PRI and two smaller allied parties in the
border state of Tamaulipas, plunged the electoral process into a new
crisis, prompting President Felipe Calderon to cancel scheduled events and
convene an urgent meeting of his national security cabinet.
On Sunday, June 27, a bus load of sympathizers of an electoral coalition
including the PAN was shot up in the violence-torn state of Sinaloa, but
no injuries were reported. Sergio Ocampo Brito, a PAN leader and mayoral
candidate in a Guerrero mountain community notorious for its colorful
crops of opium poppy, was not so fortunate. Dragged from his home June 25
by armed men, Ocampo’s bullet-riddled body was found over the weekend.
Widespread violence and threats against candidates, party militants,
election officials and the press have been registered. In Aguascalientes,
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