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Ms Barragan had had been campaigning in the city of Moroleon, in the violence-plagued state of Guanajuato, and was a relative newcomer to politics.
She was running as a member of the Citizen’s Movement Party, and had encouraged prospective voters to meet her to hear her policy proposals. She is the third candidate from the party who has been killed in the last 15 days.
The 61-year-old is also the 34th candidate who has been murdered this year ahead of the legislative elections in June. Since the start of the election season last year, 88 politicians have been killed.
Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said that gangs were killing candidates to intimidate voters, and said that Ms Barragan’s murder was “without a doubt” the work of organised criminals.
The elections, on 6 June, will see thousands of mayors and local councillors elected, as well as a new lower house of congress and 15 state governors; in all, more than 20,000 positions will be determined.
Other candidates who have been targeted with violence include Abel Murrieta and Cristina Delgado. Mr Murrieta was a mayoral candidate and former prosecutor in Ciudad Obregon. According to his last campaign video, Mr Murrieta was planning on pursuing a tough on crime agenda, if elected.
“We’re all fed up that criminals control our streets,” he said. He was shot 10 times in the face, neck and chest in mid-May while handing out leaflets on a crowded street corner. Ms Delgado had been planning a mayoral campaign in Oaxaca but withdrew her candidacy after she received a death threat alongside a severed pig’s head in January.
Like Ms Delgado, more than 60 candidates for mayor have withdrawn from campaigning amid threats and violence. Of those that remain in their races, 150 candidates have received protection from the government since early April.
The consulting firm Etellekt has said that the majority of political murders this year have been candidates and nominees running for local positions, because drug cartels are looking to place sympathetic candidates in towns and cities in order to expand their influence, operate without police obstruction, and extort money from local businesses with impunity.
In 2020, Mexico’s murder rate stood at 27 per 100,000 people, its highest since the 1960s. For comparison, the UK’s murder rate was 1.2 per 100,000.
The state of Guanajuato, where Ms Barragan was killed, is also Mexico’s most deadly, registering 4,750 homicides in 2020, and 1,263 in the first four months of 2021.
Additional reporting by Associated Press