12/18/13 (written by petrichk) — Mayors and mayors-elect in Oaxaca have become the target of homicide in a number of cases this year, with the month of December adding two more attempts in a two-week span, one of which was fatal.
Epigmenio Rafael Aragón Ruiz, the mayor-elect of the city of San Pedro Totolapan, Oaxaca, was murdered on December 5, 2013, gunned down outside City Hall by two men riding a motorcycle. Aragón Ruiz was due to take office in January. Jefté Méndez Hernández, a deputy for the New Alliance Party (Partido Nueva Alianza, PANAL), condemned the murder and called on the police department to immediately investigate the crime. Oaxaca Attorney General Joaquín Carrillo Ruíz responded with a statement that his office, in conjunction with the Secretary of Public Security (Secretaría de Seguridad Públic, SSP), has launched an investigation into the assailants in the district of Tlacolula de Matamoros. Just over one week later, unidentified gunman shot mayor-elect Javier Leónidas López Roldán of Santiago, Tamazola inside his home on December 13. Although he suffered wounds to his leg, López Roldán, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI), survived the attack.
2013 has been a particularly dangerous year for civic officials in Oaxaca. Including the recent attacks, Oaxaca has seen five attempts against mayors, four of whom were killed. Mayor Feliciano Martínez Bautista of San Juan, Mixtepec, was killed on March 24, while mayor-elect Isaí García Tapia of San Sebastián Tecomaxtlahuaca was gunned down on September 5. Five days later, on September 10, Mayor Everardo Hugo Hernández of San Andrés Cabecera Nueva was murdered.
Deputy Méndez Hernández drew attention to the danger facing elected officials and their families in Mexico, acknowledging that he fears for his life. Prosecuting or speaking out publically against organized crime remains a quick way to imperil oneself and their family, he indicated. Referencing the arson-attack on the house of Aragón Ruiz’s sister, Numulia, in October of this year, Méndez Hernández also spoke of his personal experiences being threatened and intimidated after taking a stand against organized crime in Totolapam and Yautepec. It is interesting to note that Méndez Hernández took over for Luis Díaz Pantoja, the former PANAL deputy, after he and his two brothers were arrested on October 10, 2013, on charges of selling marijuana, endangering public health, and connections with the Cártel del Istmo (also known as the Cártel Díaz Parada). Their uncle, Pedro Díaz Parada, the alleged founder of the cartel, is currently serving a 33-year sentence in Centro Federal de Readaptación Social in Almoloya de Juárez, Mexico State (Estado de México, Edomex). News sources note that San Pedro Totolapan gained notoriety in the 1980s as one of the major marijuana growing capitals of the world.
As investigations continue, however, authorities have not indicated if the December murder of Aragón Ruiz and the attack on López Roldán were politically motivated, related to organized crime, or other.