Mexican congresswoman kidnapped at gunpoint

Mexican security forces were on Wednesday searching for a newly elected congresswoman who was kidnapped at gunpoint by armed men on a highway in the central state of Hidalgo.

Norma Azucena Rodríguez Zamora, 32, was travelling with her driver and assistant when at least two gunmen opened fire on her vehicle, causing it to flip over and injuring the two staff members.

The men then dragged out the congresswoman and forced her into their car, reported to be a black VW Bora. 

Members of Ms Rodríguez’s party, the Left-wing PRD, demanded authorities do everything in their power to find her alive. 

The politician was due to take office on September 1 as a congresswoman for the neighbouring state of Veracruz, a hotbed of drug cartel activity that has suffered some of the worst violence in the country in recent years.

Tuesday’s ambush took place on the same highway where a mayor from the nearby state of Puebla, Genaro Negrete Urbano, was kidnapped in July. He was later shot dead, his body found earlier this month.

The kidnap of Ms Rodríguez, currently serving as mayor in the Veracruz town of Tihuatlán, is the latest act of violence surrounding Mexico’s July elections.

At least 48 candidates were murdered in the run-up to the landmark vote, in which Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a veteran Leftist, secured a decisive victory with promises of change amid widespread after decades of almost exclusively one-party rule. 

Mr Lopez Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor commonly referred to as Amlo, ran in two presidential elections as the candidate for the PRD before leaving the party for his own political movement, Morena.

Previously dismissed by many as a populist, Mr Lopez came to represent the hopes and frustrations of Mexicans angered by the endemic corruption and organised crime that has long ravaged the country.

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The outgoing ruling party, the PRI, governed Mexico for all of the last 90 years apart from the period of 2000-2012, when the centre-Right PAN took office.

The current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, pledged to calm the drug conflict that exploded in the mid-2000s  but under his tenure the violence has only increased. 

With almost 30,000 murders, 2017 was the deadliest year on record, and 2018 is on course to surpass that toll. 

Mr Lopez Obrador will be inaugurated on December 1 and must then confront a monumental challenge: how to deliver on the lofty promise of bringing an end to the bloodshed by the middle of his six-year-term. 

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