10/29/14 (written by ashoffner) — The body of former Mayor Cándido Morales Andrade of Acultzingo, Veracruz (2010-2013) was recently found floating in the Río Blanco. Morales, of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD), was reported missing on October 4, and authorities discovered his body two weeks later on October 19, after which Morales’ family identified him on October 24. According to forensic experts, Morales had a bullet in the chest and another in the leg, which they identify as signs of torture.
Mexico’s Federal Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) is currently investigating the case, working to uncover the motive behind the former mayor’s disappearance and killing. It is believed that the assailants were members of organized crime, especially given the presence of Los Zetas in the Veracruz area, and particularly in Acultzingo. This case also coincides with the Mexican Army’s (Ejército Mexicano) discovery of a “narco ranch” on September 1 in the hills of Acultzingo on the highway connecting the nearby towns of Orizaba a Tehuacán in the neighboring state of Puebla. The ranch is believed to have been a Zetas’ training facility for youth and police. Federal authorities dismantled the facility in an operation that killed three and led to the arrest of 30 more suspects, but did not go public with its discovery and dismantling until October 14.
Morales Andrade was Acultzingo mayor from 2010 to 2013, a small town with a large indigenous náhuatl population. Excélsior reports that the former mayor was recognized for his work done in Alcultzingo while operating with few resources and a small budget, having received the National Tlatoani Award for his political contributions by the Mexican Institute of Evaluation (Instituto Mexicano de Evaluación) and the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca in Spain. He was also mayor, however, at a time when residents in his community began taking the law into their own hands, detaining, beating, and forcing several suspects in February 2013, for example, to confess to crimes before turning the detainees over to the Public Ministry (Ministerio Público, MP). As translated by Mexico Voices, when asked about the incident, Morales Andrade commented that “municipal authorities did not intervene in the matter because it was an [issue] of ‘uses and customs,’” referencing the indigenous practices and customs common in the Acultzingo area.
Funeral services have been held in Morales Andrade’s honor since authorities recovered his body from the Río Blanco.