By Lourdes Cruz
Cancun, Mexico, May 14 (EFE).- The murder of local government official Ignacio Sanchez Cordero radically changed the election picture in Puerto Morelos, a southeastern port city that is the source of the potable water consumed in Cancun, Mexico’s leading tourist destination.
A widow since that fateful Feb. 24, Blanca Merari Tziu Muñoz decided to follow in her slain husband’s footsteps and become the mayoral candidate in that municipality for the Juntos Hacemos Historia (Together We’re Making History) coalition, which includes the nationally ruling Morena party.
One of her chief rivals is the candidate of the Fuerza por Mexico (Force for Mexico) party, Tirso Esquivel Avila, who some local residents believe was behind the death threats Sanchez Cordero received prior to his untimely death.
Sanchez Cordero, who was serving as the municipality’s social development secretary when he was gunned down inside a cafeteria located just a few meters from Puerto Morelos’ Municipal Palace, was widely expected to be a candidate in the mayor’s race on June 6.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, hundreds of people attended Sanchez Cordero’s funeral and many of them called on his mother, Maura Cordero, or his widow to serve as his replacement.
“I don’t come from a political family. The only politician was my husband,” the candidate, who had been managing a family business and raising her two daughters at the time of her husband’s death, told Efe on Friday.
“These are things that happen and I definitely wasn’t prepared. However, my husband’s project was something we carried out together as a couple,” she said. “He’s no longer there but I’m going to continue the same project.”
The candidate is accompanied at campaign events by her mother-in-law, an elderly woman who sees this election as key to ensuring her son’s killers are brought to justice.
Those women remain determined in their efforts despite an incident at a campaign rally on May 5, when gunmen sought to intimidate – and later exchanged gunfire – with municipal police in an attempt to get within striking distance of the Juntos Hacemos Historia candidate.
“We’ve taken all our precautions. I have faith in our authorities. We’ve left (the investigation of that incident) in their hands,” she said.
Esquivel, an attorney and former Puerto Morelos urban development secretary who left that position last December amid controversy over the municipality’s development plan, denies any connection with Sanchez Cordero’s murder.
In remarks to Efe, he said he has been the victim of a smear campaign and unfairly targeted in the investigation.
“Around 30 heavily armed personnel from the Quintana Roo state Attorney General’s Office arrived at my house and carried out a raid (on April 11). They reviewed each and every document. They searched every corner of my house. They inspected our underwear,” the politician said with indignation in his voice.
Esquivel said the current climate of violence in Puerto Morelos is due to the economic and strategic importance of Mexico’s newest municipality, which was founded in 2016 and is home to wells that provide drinking water to all of Cancun and its hotel zone. EFE