Morelia – The gubernatorial candidates in the western state of Michoacan have wrapped up their campaigns ahead of Sunday's election in one of Mexico's most violent regions.
Luisa Maria Calderon, the sister of President Felipe Calderon, Silvano Aureoles, of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, and Fausto Vallejo, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, are vying for the governorship.
A total of 133 mayoralties and state legislative seats are also up for grabs in the election.
The three gubernatorial candidates concluded their campaigns Wednesday in the wake of the murder of La Piedad Mayor Ricardo Guzman Romero and the withdrawal of several candidates from mayoral and legislative races due to the drug-related violence in the state.
Michoacan has been the scene of a turf war between the La Familia Michoacana and Los Caballeros Templarios drug cartels.
Calderon, known as "Cocoa" and the candidate of her brother's conservative National Action Party, or PAN, and the New Alliance Party, or PANAL, spent her last day on the campaign trail in La Piedad, where her fellow party member was gunned down last week.
"On Sunday, our votes will break the silence and fear, they will let us live safely and with certainty," Calderon, who several polls indicate is the favorite, said in a posting on social-networking sites.
The leftist alliance formed by the PRD, Convergencia and the Workers Party is trying to keep Aureoles in power, accusing Calderon, a psychologist, of using federal funds in her campaign.
Michoacan has been a PRD stronghold since 2002, when Lazaro Cardenas Batel, the son of former presidential candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, won the governorship.
Vallejo, mayor of Morelia, the state, is trying to win Michoacan for the PRI and continue the party's streak of victories ahead of the 2012 presidential elections.
Michoacan, located on the Pacific coast, is used by drug cartels to smuggle drugs from South America into Mexico.
The drugs are then moved via the Pacific corridor or through central Mexico into the United States, the world's largest consumer of illegal drugs.
Michoacan has been experiencing a wave of drug-related violence blamed on the break-up of La Familia, which was considered one of Mexico's most powerful drug cartels.
La Familia has been severely weakened in recent months by infighting and government operations targeting the gang.
The cartel began unraveling after the death of one of its top bosses, Nazario Moreno, last year, officials and analysts say.
Moreno, known as "El Chayo" and considered La Familia's ideological leader, was killed in a shootout with the Federal Police in December 2010.
The La Familia faction led by Jesus Mendez, who was arrested in June, has been fighting the group led by Servando Gomez and Enrique Plancarte, who formed the Los Caballeros Templarios cartel in March.
Michoacan was the first state where President Calderon deployed federal security forces shortly after taking office in December 2006 and declaring war on Mexico's drug cartels.