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Four hours from Austin, Mexican candidate slain after defying Zetas

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  • Four hours from Austin, Mexican candidate slain after defying Zetas

    Austin, Texas news this morning.

    Four hours from Austin, Mexican candidate slain after defying Zetas

    During a congressional debate Friday night just across the Rio Grande from Eagle Pass, Fernando Purón Johnston didn’t mince his words when it came to the Zetas.

    The former mayor of the gritty border city of Piedras Negras in the state of Coahuila, Purón was running for a seat in Mexico’s congress, and was highlighting his track record in standing up to the cartel.

    “We closed the businesses of organized crime and demolished the houses belonging to the Zetas,” Purón told the audience. “We took back the city from the Zetas and we returned it, pacified, to the citizens.”

    Just minutes after the debate, as he posed for a selfie with admirers outside the auditorium at the Autonomous University of Coahuila, a bearded gunman shot him in the back of the head and sped away.

    The killing was captured on closed circuit video, and a massive manhunt is underway in northern Coahuila, where police and military forces have set up checkpoints on various highways and are searching homes and neighborhoods in Piedras Negras.

    Purón is the 112th candidate or sitting office holder to be killed during Mexico’s current campaign season, which began in September, according to the risk analysis firm Etellekt. The record-breaking assassination spree is targeting the fabric of democracy in some communities, experts say.
    Along with the killings, more than 1,000 candidates have dropped out of local races due to fear.

    So far the killings overwhelmingly have targeted local officials. Puron is the first congressional candidate to be killed in advance of July 1 elections. In less than a month, Mexicans will choose a new president as well as vote in thousands of congressional, state and local races.

    As mayor of Piedras Negras, a city of 150,000 with a growing base of NAFTA factories that sits among vast coal and gas fields and hardscrabble ranching communities, Purón had regularly received threats. According to Mexican media accounts, in 2016 a message appeared at the Piedras Negras municipal cemetery warning: “Purón, in two years we are going to cut off your head.”

    Despite the threats, Purón was fairly unique among border officials in his willingness to stand up to the Zetas, who presided over a reign of terror in the Coahuila border region until recently. In 2011, the Zetas killed hundreds and destroyed dozens of buildings during a massacre in the nearby town of Allende.

    more at link...