02/10/13- On February 4, Wilfrido Flores Villa, a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institutional, PRI) and interim mayor of Nahuatzén, Michoacán, a largely indigenous town, was shot and killed at a restaurant in the nearby municipality of Pátzcuaro. Michoacán authorities initially reported that the incident took place as Flores was in transit through the San Pedro municipality with his personal convoy of security guards. Upon further investigation however, state and federal police confirmed that the actual scene of the crime was at Birrieras Don Prisci restaurant in Pátzcuaro, where a gunman reportedly shot Flores in the back of the head, then fled the scene in a vehicle with accomplices. Investigations into the motive behind his assassination are ongoing.
Milenio reports that the incident marks the sixth attempted murder perpetrated against mayors of Michoacán within the past year, the previous five of which occurred in 2012, though none of those victims died. Flores was named interim mayor of Nahuatzén in September 2012, following the death of the former mayor elect of the municipality, Ignacio Rodríguez Villa, who passed away from Leukemia. Michoacán’s Legislative Congress has been in the process of electing a new mayor since Flores’ appointment in September.
Following Flores’ death, a PRI representative from Michoacán denied there being any link between the disputed seat for the municipal presidency and Flores’ murder. According to Cambio de Michoacán, both the National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional, PAN) and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD) in Michoacán expressed alarm at his death, and added that the government of Michoacán must illustrate a definitive security strategy that will put its citizens and public officials at ease. The leader of the PRI in Michoacán, Antonio Guzmán Castañeda, spoke with Cambio de Michoacán in an interview stipulating the importance of holding talks between Mexico’s political parties, concerning the lack of security within Mexico. Guzmán Castañeda added that neither he nor other PRI officials in Michoacán had cause to believe Flores was under any threat.
The governor of Michoacán, Fausto Vallejo Figueroa, has asked that the state Attorney General’s office (Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado, PGJE) not overlook any leads in its investigation into the murder. El Tiempo reports that one such lead could be what Michoacán state police are already looking into: the potential organized crime threat in the Meseta Purépecha region of Michoacán, a region known for its vast indigenous population in which Nahuatzén is located. Some of the indigenous population of Meseta Purépecha have reportedly received threats from the Knights Templar (Los Caballeros Templários), a drug trafficking organization that is thought to have significant control in that area. Although investigations continue, it is unclear whether Flores’ death was tied to organized crime such as this, his role as interim mayor, or other.
EFE. “Wilfrido Flores Villa, alcalde interino del municipio de Nahuatzen en el estado de Michoacán, suroeste de México, fue asesinado hoy cuando se encontraba en un restaurante en la localidad de Pátzcuaro, informaron fuentes oficiales.” El Tiempo. February 4, 2013.