With yet another mayor shot dead in Mexico within two weeks, calls for better security for municipal officials have been amassing quickly. The country's war on drugs is fast approaching crisis point.
Jose Santa Maria Zavala, the mayor of the town of Huehuetlan El Grande in Puebla State, was found dead last night next to his bullet-riddled car. Local residents found his body and alerted authorities. He was the third mayor to be killed in Mexico in two weeks.
The motive for the slaying was unclear; however, initial investigation findings stated that 44-year-old Zavala had been the victim of a robbery attempt. Authorities added that they were not ruling out other motives but stressed that there were no known threats against him.
The police report specified that the mayor's secretary had been traveling with him but was not there when authorities arrived. It was not clear if the secretary was among witnesses who were being interviewed by police.
A crisis about to escalate
The National Association of Mayors of Mexico said that at least 41 mayors had been murdered since 2006, when the country's war on narcotics began to escalate. Two other mayors were killed just last month.
Ambrosio Soto, the mayor of Pungabarato in the drug violence-plagued southern state of Guerrero, was ambushed by gunmen on the night of July 23 - 24. Soto had been receiving threats from a gang. The same weekend, Domingo Lopez Gonzalez, the mayor of San Juan Chamula in the southern Chiapas state, was also shot dead during a protest. Last week, the wife of a mayor in the southern state of Oaxaca was shot dead.
The past 10 years also saw seven mayors-elect and 32 former mayors killed. In January, the mayor of Temixco in the central state of Morelos was shot dead in front of her family less than 24 hours after she had taken office.
The National Association of Mayors of Mexico said the situation was about to escalate, calling on the federal government for protection.
ss/bw (AFP, dpa)