By The New Zealand Herald, 04/17/15
MEXICO CITY (AP) ” Mexico’s conservative National Action Party said Thursday that local candidates in the western state of Michoacán have been threatened by crime gangs.
Michoacán saw a wave of violence during elections in 2011, including the kidnapping of nine pollsters, the gunning down of a mayor, and the withdrawal of at least a dozen candidates frightened off the campaign trail by organized crime.
Increased police presence and the breaking of the Knights Templar drug cartel were supposed to improve this year’s vote.
But the head of the National Action Party in Michoacán, Miguel Angel Chavez Zavala, said Thursday that armed gangs had threatened city council candidates in the cities of Purepero and Irimbo to make them abandon their candidacies. Threats were also directed toward candidates’ families, he said.
Chavez Zavala, who not say how many candidates had been threatened, called on the government to provide security for the electoral process.
“It is unacceptable that, once again, organized crime is trying to directly influence the electoral process, to get the people they want into local office,” he said.
Drug cartels in Mexico have been known to demand local officials hand over part of municipal budgets or hire cartel-related contractors to do government work at inflated prices.