A little pre-election violencia in Mexico

It's interesting how Mexico has changed.   

Back in the 1980s, I recall a national yawn before, during, and after election day.  Mexicans were required to vote, but nobody talked much about it.  I remember asking questions and sharing impressions about the candidates with Mexican friends.  I also recall a collective "who cares?"  They were more interested in U.S. elections than their own elections!

That was then, and this is now.

The good news is that Mexicans are talking and sharing lots of opinions.   

The bad news is that the situation is getting a little violent, according to news reports:

Mexico will hold midterm electionsJune 7 for numerous state governors, mayors and congressional members. But violence in many regions has threatened the vote. Candidates have been slain, others have said they are too afraid to campaign, and election officials have said they cannot set up ballot stations in some states because of dangers.

The panorama stands in marked contrast to what the Peña Nieto government has sought to portray, saying that the homicide rate has declined. Those statistics remain in dispute, and rates for other crimes, like kidnapping and extortion, are still high.

Where is this situation headed?  It is not getting better at all, according to another news report:

José Antonio Crespo, a political analyst for Mexico’s Center for Economic Research and Instruction, said, “That’s the way Mexican elections are nowadays,” referring to the targeting of candidates.

“In the majority of cases it is connected to drug cartels, organized crime,” Crespo said. “That just reveals what we already knew, that this problem has gotten beyond the control of the Mexican government.” 

There are no easy answers, but President Peña-Nieto sought to downplay the military's role in the fight against the cartels.  He tried to improve the police corps and put the troops back in the barracks.

On paper, President Peña-Nieto's approach was understandable, because the army is exhausted.   

On the other hand, reality has shown President Peña-Nieto that using the military was the best option for two reasons.  First, the military is well-armed and can match cartel weapons.  Second, the military is less likely to get corrupted than the local police.

There are no pretty choices.  This is not going to be the last election marred by unrest.  The situation does seem to be getting very violent south of the border.

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