Mexican Officials Pledge Security For Elections

Published January 7, 2012 6:36PM (EST)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican officials have pledged expanded security for the country's July 1 presidential and congressional elections and said they'll consider providing protection for a broad range of candidates amid growing interference by criminal gangs in politics.

The Mexican government normally provides security for presidential candidates, but Assistant Interior Secretary Obdulio Avila said Friday his agency will "evaluate the appropriateness of security for other candidates."

Interior Secretary Alejandro Poire said, "We should recognize that, while it is not a generalized phenomenon, there have been instances of public insecurity and interference or attempts at interference by criminals in some elections."

That was an apparent reference to November local elections in western Michoacan state, when several mayoral candidates dropped out of races there amid drug cartel threats.

"Let there be no doubt that conditions are there, and the institutions are strong enough, to hold peaceful and lawful elections, but it would be dangerous to let our guard down," Poire said.

In 2010 gunmen believed to be working for a drug cartel assassinated the leading candidate for governor in the northern state of Tamaulipas.

The Interior Department also said it would be willing to provide protection for electoral officials. In August, nine employees of private polling firms were kidnapped and later released in Michoacan.

Also Friday, the chief prosecutor of Mexico City, Miguel Mancera, announced he is resigning from the post to run in the capital for the mayoral nomination of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD. Those elections will also be held July 1.

The PRD, which currently governs the city, has urged officials to resign their posts if they intend to campaign for another office.

Mexico City has largely been spared the brutal drug cartel violence that has hit many other parts of the country.

By Salon Staff

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