Mayor shot dead while at dinner with his son

MORELIA, MEXICO – Mexico’s recent wave of politically motivated violence claimed another victim this past weekend as a local mayor was fatally shot in a restaurant. Guillermo Torres, 39, was dining with his 14-year-old son in a establishment in Morelia, the capital city of the western Michoacan state, when he was shot according to a statement from the regional prosecutor’s office. His son survived the assault.

Torres was elected as mayor of Churumuco, a municipality in Michoacan, through the Institutional Revolutionary Party in 2022. However, he had recently distanced himself from the party and expressed alignment with the ruling Morena party as per various local media reports.

Torres is another addition to the growing list of politicians victimized in the violence-filled context of Mexico’s presidential elections, scheduled to take place on June 2. Over 20,000 local and federal positions, along with the entire Congress, are up for grabs in the election.

This year, on February 26, two mayoral candidates, Miguel Angel Zavala Reyes of Morena and Armando Perez Luna of the National Action Party, were murdered. Last month, another mayoral candidate, Tomas Morales, was killed in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero. The Laboratorio Electoral think tank disclosed in a report that between June 4, 2023, and March 26, 2024, 50 individuals have been victims of “episodes of electoral violence”, with 26 of them pursuing public offices.

Targets for assassination attempts by Mexico’s drug cartels often include mayors and mayoral candidates as the cartels aim to commandeer local police forces or extort funds from municipal governments.

Michoacan state, known for being the prime avocado-producing region of Mexico, is frequently subjected to altercations between organized crime groups including the influential Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

In a single incident last month, a state police officer was reportedly beheaded, and her two bodyguards were shot dead on a highway in Michoacan. Three farmers were also killed by an apparent bomb in the state in March.

Mexico continues to grapple with rampant killings and kidnappings, with an estimated 450,000 people murdered since 2006 as part of the country’s drug-related violence crisis, based on official figures.