Being the governor of Mexico's Pacific coastal state of Colima seems to be high-risk proposition —even once you're out of office. Two gunmen shot Fernando Moreno Peña, Colima's governor from 1997 to 2003, as he ate breakfast in a restaurant in the state capital on Oct. 12. He was struck six times, although doctors say he will likely survive. In 2010 another Colima ex-governor, Silverio Cavazos, who held office from 2005-2009, was slain outside his home. Gustavo Vázquez Montes, Cavazos' predecessor, met his fate in a plane crash while returning from meetings in Mexico City in 2005. The cause of the crash was never determined, but mysterious plane crashes appear to be a favored way of getting rid of members of Mexico's political elite. All three men were members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)—Mexico's generations-ruling political machine, which once again holds the presidency after finally losing it for two terms starting in 2000.
While Colima has not been particularly hard-hit by Mexico's endemic narco-violence, it's an important hub of cartel economic activity. As The World Weekly notes in its coverage of the attempted assassination: "A small state, Colima is home to Mexico's biggest container port, Manzanillo, making it a point of strategic importance for drug gangs, including the Sinaloa Cartel that operates on the Pacific coast as an important entry point for cocaine come from South America and methamphetamine precursors such as ephedrine coming from Asia. More recently it is reported to have been a key location for child trafficking rings. While it has escaped much of the cartel violence Mexican states nearer to the border with the US have experienced, violent incidents have been on the rise."
Authorities are mum on a suspected motive in the hit on Moreno Peña, but this is pretty transparent—especially given that Mexican cops are quick to charge narco connections whenever, say, journalists are murdered. A wry cartoon in the left-leaning daily La Jornada on Oct. 14 summed it up. A federal police officer speaks with a forensic investigator at the crime scene, saying: "If he were a journalist, we would say he was shot because he had links with organized crime. But we're dealing with an ex-governor… of Colima… and from the PRI. So, we have no idea."