By Anahi Rama and Lizbeth Diaz
Violence in the run-up to Mexico’s mid-term elections this weekend has killed at least seven candidates and forced another 20 out of the race, battering the government’s record on law and order.
Drug gangs battling for control of Pacific coast trafficking routes have murdered or intimidated candidates, while militant teachers opposed to education reforms have threatened to sabotage voting stations in much of southwestern Mexico.
The violence flies in the face of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s pledge when he took office in December 2012 that his government would restore order to the country.
Fear has hamstrung candidates and voters alike across vast swaths of Mexico.
“I watch where I go, who I go with, and when I go,” Hector Astudillo, gubernatorial candidate for Pena Nieto’s ruling party in the state of Guerrero, said in the beach resort of Acapulco, one of Mexico’s most violent cities.