Monday, June 18, 2012

LA Times - Mexico violence escalates as elections approach

With presidential and local elections slightly more than two weeks away, violence — some of it political, some of it part of a raging drug war — is surging in Mexico, with candidates killed, journalists snatched and major arrests threatening to touch off a wave of reprisals. And in a sign of the profound corruption that a new president will face, a video released this week shows police officers marching men from a hotel in the middle of the night. The men turned up dead the next day, and the police are suspected of acting on orders from drug gangs. In the coastal state of Veracruz, the body of reporter Victor Baez was discovered early Thursday in the main plaza of the state capital, Xalapa, hours after gunmen intercepted him as he left his newsroom. Baez is the eighth journalist killed in Veracruz in the last year, and one of dozens killed or kidnapped across Mexico since the government of President Felipe Calderon launched a military-led offensive against powerful drug cartels. Many of the reporters killed, like Baez, covered the crime beat. Journalists in Veracruz have said they think they are being targeted before the July 1 vote because the long-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, fears electoral losses in the region and doesn't want coverage of campaign shenanigans. Residents in vote-rich Veracruz will choose, in addition to the president, members of the federal Congress and scores of local officials. The scandal is also threatening to engulf prominent Mexican businessmen, some of them with ties to the PRI, whose standard-bearer appears poised to reach the presidency, according to nearly all polls. That candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, has disavowed the violence that is creeping into the election campaign...more

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