Mexico’s leading presidential candidate stopped by masked men who ask for help in stemming violence

Claudia Sheinbaum

Masked men stopped a vehicle carrying Mexico’s leading presidential candidate, Claudia Sheinbaum, while she was traveling between campaign stops in Chiapas on Sunday. The men, who identified themselves as local residents, urged her to address the violence and security issues in the region if she wins the June 2 election.

Sheinbaum, the governing Morena party’s candidate, remained in the front passenger seat of the vehicle, listening calmly with her window down. Masked men filmed the interaction on their cell phones, and one shook her hand before letting her move on.

The men expressed feeling “powerless” due to the government’s inaction in providing security in the region. They asked her to take action as president to prevent their township, Motozintla, from becoming a “disaster” like other communities in the region.

During her campaign swing through Chiapas, Sheinbaum was escorted by the army and national guard. The border area of Chiapas has been plagued by violence as the rival Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels battle for territory. Thousands of people have been displaced as the cartels work to control migrant, drug, and weapons smuggling routes and forcibly recruit locals.

Later Sunday, Sheinbaum confirmed the incident had occurred but downplayed it, saying she didn’t believe the men were part of an organized crime group. She described the encounter as “very strange” because a media outlet critical of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration first published it. Sheinbaum has maintained a comfortable lead in the presidential race, according to polls.

A federal lawmaker from López Obrador’s party who was traveling with Sheinbaum had earlier described the encounter on the social platform X. Federal deputy Carmen Patricia Armendáriz wrote that they had been stopped by masked men from one of the cartels battling for the area’s control, but she later deleted it.

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