Mayor Yolanda Sánchez Figueroa Assassinated in Mexico

Yolanda Sánchez Figueroa, who has been mayor of Cotija, Michoacán since 2021, was assassinated along with her bodyguard

Yolanda Sanchez assassinated

Photo: Facebook/yolanda.sanchezfigueroa

This month marked a historic win for Latinas in politics in Latin America yet the recent assassination of a female mayor in Mexico is a reminder that femicide remains an ongoing issue. In Mexico’s most recent political elections, the country elected its first female president and first Jewish president Claudia Sheinbaum after many years of women serving in key government positions including the Senate and Supreme Court. She even broke the record for the highest number of votes ever recorded for a Mexican presidential candidate. However, it’s clear that there are some who continue to see women in positions of power as a threat. Less than 24 hours after Sheinbaum’s victory on June 3rd, Yolanda Sánchez Figueroa, who has been the mayor of Cotija de la Paz in the Mexican state of Michoacán since 2021, was assassinated by gunmen in a van on her walk home.

Her bodyguard, identified as Jesús V. in a press release from the Michoacan attorney general’s office, was also shot and declared dead at the hospital where they were taken. It marks the latest in a long line of murders allegedly committed by local cartels against politicians this year due to the election, including Bertha Gisela Gaytán Gutiérrez, who was running for mayor of Celaya, Guanajuato. The number reached 37 assassinations as of May 31. The state government has launched an investigation into Sánchez Figueroa’s murder, which is ongoing, CBS News reported.

“The @GobMichoacan condemns the murder of the municipal president of Cotija, Yolanda Sánchez Figueroa. A security operation coordinated with federal agencies has been deployed to find those responsible for the incident,” the Michoacan state government stated in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Sánchez Figueroa was elected the mayor of Cotija de la Paz after a successful campaign in 2021. However, this is not the first time she has been the victim of political-related violence. In September 2023, she was kidnapped while leaving a shopping mall in Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco, which shares a border with Michoacán. The three kidnappers belonged to the cartel known as Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG), who allegedly threatened her for using the police force to interfere with the group’s takeover. Three days later, she was found alive and the kidnappers were arrested. Almost exactly four years ago, she posted a profile picture on her Facebook page in response to femicide in Mexico with text reading “I was born to be free, not to be assassinated.”

According to a press release from Michoacan’s attorney general’s office, Sánchez Figueroa left the gym around 9 p.m. at night to go home. She was accompanied by her bodyguard. However, while walking on Juárez Street, they were cut off by a group of assailants in a moving white van, who shot at her and her bodyguard before escaping. Both were taken to a hospital in Los Reyes where they both succumbed to their injuries. According to a post from local outlet Punto 4T, she was shot at least 19 times. Authorities haven’t released any information about the identities of the shooters or a motive for the murders but it could be argued that gender played a role, given the high rates of gender-based violence and femicide throughout the country for decades.

The investigation is currently ongoing.

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Claudia Sheinbaum cotija femicide latina Latinas in politics mayor Mexico Michoacán news Politics trending violence against latinas Violence against women Yolanda Sánchez Figueroa
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