Drug war victims’ families blast Mexican candidates
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s presidential candidates yesterday faced the families of people murdered, mutilated, and kidnapped in drug violence in a meeting that was marked by strong condemnations of corrupt police and politicians.
In a stark reminder of the rampant crime facing Mexico’s next president, distraught family members burst into tears and shouted at the four candidates sitting at the table opposite them in Mexico City’s elegant Chapultepec Castle.
“In your worst nightmares, you couldn’t imagine what it is like to lose your child,” said Margarita Lopez, whose daughter disappeared in the southern state of Oaxaca. “We are thousands of mothers with disappeared children.”
More than 5,000 people have gone missing and around 55,000 have been killed in Mexico’s drug war since President Felipe Calderon took power and launched a military offensive against cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006.
Calderon, who is constitutionally barred from running for re-election, also faced the opprobrium of angry relatives of the dead in a meeting last year.
Attacks on the contenders for the July 1 election were led by the Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, who has become a figurehead in the movement to end the drug war since his son was tortured and killed by suspected cartel members last year.
In yesterday’s encounter in the castle, which is sometimes used for public events, Sicilia scolded all the candidates, calling them “cold,” “arrogant,” and “superficial.”
Addressing Josefina Vazquez Mota, candidate of Calderon’s conservative National Action Party (PAN), Sicilia said:
“You represent a party that after 12 years leaves a huge graveyard of a country as an inheritance.”
The latest polls show Vazquez Mota running in third place, and the relentless drug violence has hurt the PAN.
Sicilia was equally critical of front-runner Enrique Pena Nieto, who is on track to return the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) to power after a 12-year hiatus.