Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mexico: Where Bullets Are Intimidating the Ballot

Last Friday, June 25, gubernatorial candidate Rodolfo Torre raised both his arms to the sky in front of 15,000 cheering white-shirted supporters in a baseball stadium minutes from the Rio Grande. After he promised security in his violence-ridden border state of Tamaulipas, the crowd erupted to his campaign anthem, sung to the catchy tune of the smash hit "I Gotta Feeling" by U.S. pop band Black Eyed Peas. They had reason for celebration. Opinion polls all concurred that the mustachioed physician would win the July 4 election by a landslide of more than 30 points. But on Monday, as Torre left the state capital to conclude his campaign, assailants showered his convoy with gunfire from automatic rifles and heavy-caliber weapons, killing him instantly. Army commanders said the attack bore all the signs of the Zetas, a paramilitary drug gang that was born in the state. Mexico's highest-profile political assassination since the 1994 murder of presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was a blow not only to Torre's supporters but to the nation's entire ailing democracy. A key problem is that many of the polls are in the states hardest hit by the relentless drug war, including Chihuahua, home to Ciudad Juárez, which has a reputation for being one of the most dangerous cities in the world, and Sinaloa, the cradle of Mexican organized crime. Tamaulipas, a state that shares a border with Texas and has three of the busiest land cargo-crossing points into the U.S., has this year been engulfed by bloody battles between the Zetas and their old masters in the Gulf cartel...more

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