A spike in assassinations in the run-up to Mexico's regional and national elections is "absolutely unacceptable," the Organization of American States (OAS) warned on Friday.
"It is an average of one murder of a candidate every four or five days: that is a margin of violence absolutely unacceptable in an electoral process, we are very worried," said OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro.
Mexico's next president – as well as numerous senators, federal deputies, governors and mayors – will be contested in July when millions of voters head to the polls.
"We are concerned about several elements in the Mexican election: the first is the assassination of candidates and political leaders in the country," Almagro said during a conference at the Casa America in Madrid.
On Friday morning, news of the murder of Gustavo Martin Gomez Alvarez, a mayoral candidate with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), reached the department of Puebla.
Local media is reporting that Gomez Alvarez was eating breakfast in Metlatoyuca at about 11:30 a.m. when a group of men drove up and shot him six times. The death is being investigated by the Puebla Public Prosecutor's Office as a homicide.
Earlier this month, mayoral candidates Homero Bravo Espino, with the Mexican Democratic Party (PRD), and Aaron Varela Martinez, with the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), were both shot dead.
Antonia Jaimes Moctezuma (PRD) and Dulce Nayeli Rebaja Pedro (Institutional Revolutionary Party), both precandidates for local elections in Chilapa, Guerrero, were killed on Feb. 21 and Feb. 25 respectively. Rebaja was also head of Indigenous and Afro-Mexican Affairs for the state of Guerrero.
According to the PRD's estimate, about 12 members of the party have been assassinated since the beginning of the election campaign in September.
Local media report that at least 54 pre-candidates from various parties have been murdered during the same period, while 83 have been assaulted.
Since 2006, more than 100 mayors have been killed, according to a report by the National Association of Mayors.
The OAS plans to send observers to the July elections in an attempt to safeguard electoral transparency.