03/30/14 (written by cmolzahn) — The mayor of Tanhuato, Michoacán, Gustavo Garibay García, was murdered outside of his home in the morning of March 22. According to initial reports, there were three assailants who shot and killed Garibay as he left his home, escaping in a Chevrolet Blazer. No suspects have been named to date. The murder of Garibay, of the National Action Party (Partido de Acción Nacional, PAN), was the tenth assassination of a mayor in Michoacán in the past five years.
Garibay had survived a previous attack on October 12, 2012, when his official vehicle came under fire as he was carrying out a tour of his municipality. He was wounded in the attack, but was flown to a hospital in Morelia where he recovered. He had insisted that the attack came as a result of his refusing to pay extortions to area gang members which he said had demanded as much as 50% of the municipal budget. Following the attack in 2012 he was given a security detail of 12 federal police at the behest of state and federal officials. However, those same authorities later reduced the detail to three municipal police officers, and later removed his protection detail altogether in August of last year, with no explanation. At that point, the coordinator of mayors from the PAN in Michoacán reported that the mayors of Bajío, Vista Hermosa, and La Piedad had also lost their security details. According to press reports, in February of last year, Pedro Córdoba, the secretary of the town council, was assassinated, and Garibay on a number of occasions ask that his security detail be restored, but his requests were not honored. However, Michoacán Governor Fausto Vallejo said that day of Garibay’s murder that he had offered the mayor a security detail in October, but that he had refused.
Mexican Interior Minister Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong and Alfredo Castillo Cervantes, federal commissioner for Michoacán, both committed to finding Garibay’s killers. When the shooting was reported, federal police cordoned off the area, but were unable to apprehend any suspects. Since then, Michoacán state police have taken control of the Tanhuato municipality, and are taking statements from municipal police regarding Garibay’s murder.
Cecilia Romero, national president of the PAN, classified Garibay’s murder as evidence that the strategy implemented in Michoacán by the federal government is not achieving positive results. She insisted that the Mexican government do more to guarantee the safety of mayors in Michoacán. Víctor Báez Ceja, director of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD) in Michoacán, echoed Romero’s statements, calling the murder of Garibay a message from organized crime that contradicts the “excess of confidence” that the federal government expresses about its effectiveness in addressing the security situation in Michoacán.