Violence, chaos mar elections in Mexican border state of Baja California

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People cast their vote at a polling station during midterm elections in Tijuana, Mexico, on June 6, 2021. Mexicans began voting Sunday in elections seen as pivotal to President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s promised “transformation” of a country shaken by the coronavirus pandemic, a deep recession and drug-related violence. (Photo by GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images)

TIJUANA (Border Report) — As a polling place opened this morning in the Tijuana colonia of Terrazas del Valle, workers discovered a severed human head. Nearby, at another polling place, more human remains were found.

There’s also reports of vehicles with loudspeakers roaming streets telling people the election has been postponed.

The Morena Party, which is led by Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and is expected to win most races including the office of governor in Baja California, says opposition parties are trying to intimidate people into not voting.

Later in the morning in Mexicali, the state’s capital, several men stormed into a polling place and stole ballot boxes before driving away with them. A video making the rounds shows poll workers running after the men pleading the boxes be returned.

Another video circulating Sunday shows a white SUV pulling up to the Morena Party offices in Mexicali before one man steps out of the vehicle and spraying the building with a machine gun.

One of the candidates running for Baja California governor, Carlos Atilano, said organized crime is behind the violence and intimidation.

“Organized crime is participating in the electoral process, this is bad news for Baja California and the rest of the country,” he said. “I believe this is a bad message that is trying to inhibit citizens from participating, placing the fear in them. Mexico can’t move forward with political election violence.”

There’s also widespread reports of polling places not opening on time, or at all, due to missing ballots.

“We can only blame the electoral body,” said Atilano. “In Mexicali and Rosarito, polling places were never installed nor ballot boxes delivered. I hope this was not a concentrated government effort to protect a candidate or party.”

Meanwhile, Baja California Gov. Jaime Bonilla said he had not heard of “aggressive incidents.”

“I don’t have any knowledge of incidents or themes like that,” he said. “It sounds like someone may have gone over to burn down a building but not to hurt anyone. I don’t have any reports of any grave incidents.”

Media in Baja California, including the El Sol Newspaper in Tijuana, are reporting that only 60 percent of polling places had opened by 11:45 a.m. almost four hours behind schedule.

When pressed about polling places delaying their opening or not opening at all, Bonilla asked people to be patient.

“We’re asking that while we wait for poll workers to arrive, people remain in line, we believe there will be a lot of participation,” he said.

Visit the BorderReport.com homepage for the latest exclusive stories and breaking news about issues along the United States-Mexico border.

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