The assassination of Alejandro Aparicio Santiago


Kyran Mitchell

On January 1, 2019, Alejandro Aparicio Santiago was killed hours after taking office in the town of Tlaxiaco, Mexico. As He walked to the city hall for his first meeting, he was shot down by a group of gunmen. He ran for this position as a member of Mexico’s National Regeneration Movement, the same party as the newly elected Mexican president. The party runs on a platform of being against corruption, especially the corrupt dealings that occur between cartel leaders and elected politicians. However, this strong stance places a target on the party’s back, as cartels do not wish for their profits to be diminished. Being a politician in Mexico is a very dangerous job.

In a recent report, “The consulting firm Etellekt says that between September 2017 and August 2018, 175 politicians were killed.” Politicians are commonly afraid to change the current system or work to punish cartels for their crimes, because that is seen as a death sentence for many. Even speaking out against major cartels in an area may lead to death. Normal citizens do not want to live in a corrupt system propagated by criminals, but when speaking for change may lead to death, many do not have a choice.

The issue of cartels having a prominent role in Mexican politics is not a recent development. While prominent drug cartels have existed since the 1980’s, this level of violence against politicians and normal citizens began in 2006 when the Mexican government launched new programs in order to combat the illicit drug trade. The government of Mexico deployed the military to deal with the leaders of the cartels in order to shut them down.

However, this had the opposite effect. Instead of the cartels disbanding, they broke into smaller, more extreme factions fighting for the land left vacant by the old leaders. These smaller gangs have diversified from the drug trade, now involving themselves with kidnapping and extortion, which puts normal citizens at a greater risk of harm or even death.  

These violent cartels continue to operate because of the money, control, and influence they have. The cartels pay law enforcement to allow them to continue their illicit activities, such as trafficking drugs across the US-Mexico border. Politicians also regularly ally themselves with cartels in order to gain funding and support for their campaigns. In exchange, politicians turn a blind eye to the rampant violence that plagues many urban areas of Mexico.

These stories get little attention due to the targeting of journalist by these cartels. If a report comes out about crimes committed by one of these gangs, the journalist may be killed. These cartels have tight control over any facets of life in Mexico, and many wonder if there will be an end to the violence any time soon.

Throughout all the chaos, there is hope. Politicians like Alejandro Aparicio Santiago give hope that real change might be on the way. With the new power of the National Regeneration Movement at the local and federal level, there is a real hope that these politicians will inspire real change to occur. Although it will be a long battle, many have a newfound optimism that real change may be on the way.