Mayor Shot to Death With Bodyguard

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Yolanda Sanchez Figueroa, the mayor of Cotija, Mexico, was fatally shot on June 3, 2024, only a day after Claudia Sheinbaum’s landmark election as Mexico’s first female president. The state government of Michoacan confirmed the tragic news, condemning the savage act and expressing deep sadness. Jesús V., Figueroa’s bodyguard, also lost his life in the brutal assault.

Figueroa, who took office in 2021, was shot no less than 19 times outside a gym in Cotija. Local law enforcement officials reported that the attackers, driving a white truck, opened fire on Figueroa and her bodyguard as they walked home, then escaped the scene. Both victims died later in the hospital.

The attorney general’s office in Michoacan launched a security operation to apprehend the murderers.

The killing of Figueroa is another tragic chapter in Mexico’s ongoing battle with violence directed at political figures. Her death follows a series of violent incidents that stained the recent electoral period. Sheinbaum’s sweeping victory sparked a wave of optimism for change, particularly regarding gender violence and crime in Mexico.

Sheinbaum’s election is viewed as a defining moment in Mexican history. She captured nearly 60% of the vote, a significant achievement in a country deeply rooted in male-dominant culture. However, her victory also highlighted the unrelenting and widespread violence that haunts Mexican politics. During the election, 37 political candidates were murdered, emphasizing the risks public officials face.

Despite its charming tourist spots and agricultural exports, Michoacan is plagued with severe violence due to the presence of drug trafficking and extortion gangs. In the previous year, the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG) kidnapped Figueroa, who was found alive three days later. The cartel allegedly threatened her for opposing their dominance over the local police force.

This election cycle was among the most violent in Mexico’s history, with numerous assaults targeting political candidates nationwide. In Guerrero, Alfredo Cabrera, a mayoral candidate, was murdered during a campaign event on May 29. Despite deploying thousands of soldiers and National Guard members to maintain security on election day, the wave of violence persisted.

Claudia Sheinbaum, a prior mayor of Mexico City and a leading figure in Mexican politics, will confront significant hurdles in her new role as president. Her administration must address the country’s deeply ingrained crime problems and enhance security measures to safeguard public officials and citizens.

As Mexico grieves the loss of Yolanda Sanchez Figueroa, the demand for a safer, more secure nation intensifies.

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