Woman mayor killed in Mexico just hours after election of first female president

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The woman mayor of a town in western Mexico was shot dead Monday, authorities said, just hours after the country elected its first female president in a race marred by deadly attacks on candidates.

Yolanda Sánchez Figueroa, mayor of Cotija in Michoacán state, was walking from a gym back to her house with her bodyguard when they were shot by people in a white van, the state attorney general said in a statement.

Both Sánchez Figueroa and her bodyguard later died in hospital, it said, adding that an investigation has been launched.

Confirmation of Sánchez Figueroa’s death came hours after Claudia Sheinbaum won a landslide victory to become the first female president of Mexico, marking an achievement in a country known for its patriarchal culture and widespread femicide.

Widespread violence against politicians loomed large in the election, the bloodiest in Mexico’s history. Dozens of political candidates and applicants were killed by criminal organizations during the campaign season in attempts to influence the vote.

Front pages of Mexican newspapers showing Claudia Sheinbaum's presidential victory on June 3, 2024. - Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images

Front pages of Mexican newspapers showing Claudia Sheinbaum’s presidential victory on June 3, 2024. – Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images

Sheinbaum will begin her presidency on October 1, replacing the outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, her longtime ally whose social welfare programs lifted many Mexicans out of poverty, making their leftist Morena party favorite in the polls.

But she inherits an epidemic of gang-led violence and unsolved disappearances in the country and faces an urgent task to bolster domestic and border security.

Mexico’s homicide rate is among the highest in the world and it remains a dangerous place for women,  with figures showing around 10 women are murdered every day. More than 100,000 people remain missing in the country, with no explanation of their fate. According to the think tank Mexico Evaluaaround 95% of all crimes nationwide went unsolved in the country in 2022.

Sánchez Figueroa had previously been kidnapped in September 2023 in the city of Zapopan, and was released three days later. Three men were arrested and charged with her kidnapping.

Local authorities, including the government of Michoacán, condemned the deadly attack on the mayor and her bodyguard.

“A security operation coordinated with federal agencies has been deployed to find those responsible for the incident,” the state’s Ministry of Public Security said.

CNN’s Tara John contributed reporting.

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