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Mayoral candidate assassinated, Mexican ambassador to Ecuador named "persona non grata," Sheinbaum still leads polls, economic deceleration predicted

Lauren TerMaat

Gisela Gaytán, mayoral candidate, assassinated in the street as campaigns begin; Ecuador names Mexican ambassador to Quito a “persona non grata”; Sheinbaum still leads in latest polls; economic deceleration predicted by experts. (Week of 03/31/2024 - 04/06/2024)

Week of 03/31/2024 - 04/06/2024

Gisela Gaytán, mayoral candidate, assassinated in the street as campaigns begin

On Monday (04/01) afternoon, Gisela Gaytán, a mayoral candidate for the MORENA party, was shot to death in the street during a campaign event in Celaya, Guanajuato. The official campaign period in Guanajuato had begun less than 48 hours before her assassination. After the attack, a candidate for city council who was campaigning with Gaytán, Adrián Guerrero, was initially reported dead but now is reported missing

Since her assassination, concerns have been raised that sufficient security is not being provided for candidates across the country, and that the process to request protection is too slow. Several politicians and officials, including Claudia Sheinbaum, presidential candidate for MORENA, have called for an investigation into local authorities in Guanajuato, citing that Gaytán had requested additional protection shortly before her death, and had not received it. Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodríguez confirmed on Tuesday (04/02) that the local electoral administration in Guanajuato was responsible for candidates’ security and will be investigated.  

Ecuador names Mexican ambassador to Quito a “persona non grata”

On Thursday afternoon (04/04), Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry released a statement that declared Mexican Ambassador to Quito, Raquel Serur Smeke, a “persona non grata” and ordered her to leave the country immediately. 

This decision was prompted by President López Obrador’s statements during his morning press conference on Wednesday (04/03), in which he criticized the “corrupt” media outlets in Ecuador and commented on the assassination of Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio last August. López Obrador expressed his belief that the assassination of Villavicencio was “unfairly linked” to another candidate, Luisa González, who lost support after the incident. González is also a political rival of current President of Ecuador, Daniel Noboa. 

In the statement, the Foreign Ministry of Ecuador shared that the country is still in mourning after the events of last August, and although the Mexican Ambassador must leave “soon,” diplomatic relations between the two countries will not be broken. 

Sheinbaum still leads in latest polls

New polls have been released by El Financiero showing the current preferences of Mexican voters after the first month of official campaigning leading up to the June 02, 2024 presidential elections. Notably, a month of campaigning has had very little impact on the preferences of voters. 

Claudia Sheinbaum, candidate for the Seguiremos Haciendo Historia coalition (MORENA, PVEM, PT) has a 17-point lead over Xóchitl Gálvez, candidate for the Fuerza y Corazón por México opposition coalition (PAN, PRI, PRD). Sheinbaum, with 51% of the expected votes and Gálvez, with 34%, are trailed by Movimiento Ciudadano’s candidate, Jorge Álvarez Máynez, who received about 7%. 

Compared to the polls from February, before campaigns had officially started, there has been very little change. Sheinbaum and Gálvez each only received 1% more of the expected votes, and Álvarez Máynez’s support dropped by only 1%. 

To learn more about Mexico’s upcoming elections, visit the Mexico Institute’s Elections Guide 2024

Economic deceleration predicted by experts

In the latest survey conducted by the Bank of Mexico, 40 economic analysis and consulting firms in the Mexican and international private sector predicted that Mexico’s GDP growth in 2024 would be 2.36%, compared to a 3.1% growth rate in 2023. Experts pointed to the influence of organized crime, impunity, lack of public security, and a lack of rule of law as barriers to economic growth and obstacles to foreign firms conducting business in Mexico. 

The survey also predicted a 1.92% economic growth in 2025, which is the lowest prediction from any survey in the past 12 months. The deceleration in economic growth in 2025 is expected to be caused by a shift away from social programs and public investment due to a focus on the June 2024 elections, and with the installation of a new government following the elections, experts predict a learning curve in terms of economic policy. 

About the Author

Lauren TerMaat

Lauren TerMaat

Staff Assistant Intern, Mexico Institute
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Mexico Institute

The Mexico Institute seeks to improve understanding, communication, and cooperation between Mexico and the United States by promoting original research, encouraging public discussion, and proposing policy options for enhancing the bilateral relationship. A binational Advisory Board, chaired by Luis Téllez and Earl Anthony Wayne, oversees the work of the Mexico Institute.   Read more