Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mexican governor candidate killed by gunmen, Calderon says assassination tied to drug gang violence

Monday, June 28th 2010, 8:27 PM

Mexico's President Felipe Calderon, center, gave a televised press  conference Monday to deplore the assassination of Mexican candidate  Rodolfo Torre.
Tovar/AP
Mexico's President Felipe Calderon, center, gave a televised press conference Monday to deplore the assassination of Mexican candidate Rodolfo Torre.

Just two days after singer Sergio Vega's murder rocked Mexico, the country reeled again Monday with the news that gunmen had assassinated Rodolfo Torre, the leading candidate for governor of a Mexican border state.

Torre was ambushed by attackers as he headed to the airport in Tamaulipas, the Associated Press reported, a state ravaged by violent drug gangs. At least four people traveling with him were also killed.

President Felipe Calderon condemned the murders in a televised press conference, warning against the efforts of organized crime to affect the country's elections.

"Today has proven that organized crime is a permanent threat and that we should close ranks to confront it," Calderon said. "We cannot and should not permit crime to impose its will or its perverse rules."

Torre, a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is the first gubernatorial candidate to be assassinated in Mexico in recent memory.

In the run-up to Sunday's elections in 12 states in Mexico, corruption scandals, threats, and attacks on politicians have sparked suspicion that the country's infamous drug cartels are funding candidates they support and tampering with politicians that stand in their way.

Jose Guajardo Varela, a mayoral candidate for the Tamaulipas town of Valle Hermoso, was murdered in May after receiving multiple threatening warnings to abandon his election bid.

After allegations of his ties to drug traffickers surfaced last month, Cancun mayor Gregorio Sanchez was arrested in a huge corruption scandal and had to give up his quest to become governor of the Quintana Roo state. He was ultimately charged with protecting two of Mexico's most vicious drug gangs, accusations he has denied.

Several political parties said they were at a loss to find anyone willing to run for mayor in some towns and border states because of the danger posed by drug gangs, the AP reported.

Gang violence in Mexico has surged since Calderon declared war on the drug cartels in 2006, sending thousands of troops and police across the country to put a stop to the trafficking. Since then, roughly 23,000 people have been killed in connection with drug gang violence.

Torre, 46, had held a significant lead in the polls before his death. A physician, he had served as the state's health secretary from 2005 to 2009, and was married with three children.

With News Wire Services

Ciudad Victoria.- El Agente del Ministerio Público de la Federación inició la investigación oficial sobre los hechos en los que perdió la vida el candidato a gobernador del PRI-PVEM-Panal, Rodolfo Torre Cantú y al menos seis integrantes de su comitiva.

El Agente ministerial llegó hasta el kilómetro siete de la carretera Ciudad Victoria-Soto La Marina para iniciar las pesquisas sobre la emboscada que tendió un grupo armado a la comitiva de Torre Cantú quien iba a tener una reunión privada en Soto La Marina y posteriormente se disponía viajar hacia Matamoros.

Según fuentes de la Procuraduría General de Justicia en Tamaulipas, además de Torre Cantú, murieron en el ataque su suegro, Enrique de la Garza, sus cuatro escoltas Gerardo Sotero, David Castelo, Dante Quiroz y Aurelio Balleza y el diputado local Enrique Blackmore Smer, mientras que el secretario particular del candidato a gobernador, Alejandro Martínez, murió en el hospital general una hora después de los hechos.

Los hechos ocurrieron cerca del Centro de Investigaciones Científicas de Tamaulipas, luego de que varios vehículos con hombres armados cerraron el paso al convoy del candidato, quien tendría por la tarde su cierre de campaña en Matamoros.

El grupo armado colocó un camión de remolque para interceptar a la comitiva del candidato PRI-PVEM-Panal a la altura del kilómetro siete de la carretera Ciudad Victoria y Soto La Marina, a la que disparo en varias ocasiones.

El abanderado priista se reuniría este mediodía en Matamoros con representantes de los medios de comunicación y por la tarde estaría en el cierre de campaña del candidato a la alcaldía, Alfonso Sánchez Garza, y los diputados locales por los Distritos 10, 11 y 12.


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