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Friday, January 14, 2011

Perspective: Three Mexican Mayors Have Been Shot Dead Since Jan 1, 14 Killed All of Last Year

While people have been mourning the Tuscon Tragedy here in the US, the Mexican Drug Wars against the government rages on. After seeing 14 mayors killed all of last year, we have already seen three mayors shot and killed this year, so far, and we're just into the second week of the year. At this rate, 78 mayors will die by the end of the year in the battle between the Mexican government and police versus the various drug cartels.

The mayor of an indigenous community in southern Mexico was shot dead on Thursday, a local prosecutor said, making a total of three Mexican mayors killed this year.

Luis Jimenez Mata, who only took up his post in Santiago Amoltepec at the start of year, was shot dead as he arrived at his offices in nearby Oaxaca City, capital of Oaxaca state, said Manuel de Jesus Lopez.

The motive of the killing remained unclear and fourteen people were called in for questioning, but none had been detained, the official said.

Santiago Amoltepec, which has around 1,000 inhabitants, is involved in several land conflicts with neighboring communities.

The mayor of Temoac, in central Morelos state, was fatally "shot in the face" last Monday, while authorities in the northern state of Coahuila found the bullet-riddled body of the mayor of Zaragoza last week.

Fourteen Mexican mayors were killed in 2010, mostly in the volatile north of the country near the US border, which has been gripped by brutal violence among drug gangs and security forces in recent years.

Now, I'm not trying to minimize the tragedy in Tuscon. It was horrific, but I just want to remind everyone that as much as we hem and haw about how violent the US is and that all of this violent rhetoric will take us down the path to uncontrollable violence, it could always be much worse.

Mexican officials and the population in general have to worry about getting gunned down in certain parts of the country every day. In 2010 alone, over 15,000 have been killed in the Drug Wars overall, including many police chiefs and mayors. Since 2006, a total of around 35,000 people have been killed in the Drug Wars.

Compared to many other countries, public officials in this country are very safe. Prior to the Giffords shooting, there has not been an assassination attempt of an elected official, since Hinkley shot Reagan looking to impress Jodie Foster in the 80's, and that was around 25 years ago.

So, all of this finger pointing and blaming is trivial and means nothing in the big picture.

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