Mayor-Elect Fatally Shot After Being Forcibly Removed from Bus Near Acapulco

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In a disturbing escalation of violence in areas troubled by cartel activities, Salvador Villalba Flores, the incoming mayor of a small town near Acapulco, Mexico, was fatally shot early Monday, as confirmed by prosecutors in Guerrero state. Villalba, set to commence his mayoral duties in October in Copala, a town with around 4,000 residents located approximately 80 miles southeast of the famous resort city of Acapalco, was attacked while on a highway journey.

Authorities have initiated a probe into Villalba’s assassination, withholding additional information at this moment. Reports from the local news source El Sur de Guerrero highlighted that Villalba, a retired Navy captain who typically had National Guard protection, was unaccompanied during his trip to Mexico City when the attack occurred. According to the report, the assailants intercepted the bus Villalba was on near San Pedro las Playas and subsequently shot him.

The killing of Villalba follows his decision to enter the mayoral race after a close friend, who was also a candidate, was murdered in June 2023. This tragedy unfolds against the backdrop of Claudia Sheinbaum’s historic election on June 2 as Mexico’s first female president, part of a larger election where Mexicans voted on over 20,000 governmental positions.

Violence against political figures has surged, with Data Civica, a non-profit organization, noting the deaths of more than two-dozen candidates since the campaign season began last September. Recent violent episodes include the murder of a local councilwoman in Guerrero this month and the killing of another mayor and her bodyguard in western Mexico right after Sheinbaum’s victory.

Acapulco, once a haven for celebrities and tourists, has seen its reputation tarnished by ongoing violence, contributing to its ranking as one of the world’s most dangerous cities. Recent incidents include a deadly armed attack that claimed five lives, following closely after the discovery of ten bodies, underscoring the relentless violence plaguing the region.

Guerrero state, significantly impacted by drug cartel-related violence due to its geographic location along Mexico’s Pacific coast, has recorded a staggering 1,890 murders in 2023 alone. The broader conflict against drug trafficking, which saw the Mexican government deploying the army in 2006, has resulted in over 450,000 deaths and countless missing persons, marking a prolonged period of turmoil and loss for the nation.

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