Violence in Puerto Rico has already claimed close to 500 lives in 2012 alone, according to a report by a Latin American security site.

Insight Crime reported that Puerto Rican gubernatorial candidate Alejandro García Padilla has challenged current governor Luis Fortuño, calling for a state of emergency in response to the wave of violence that erupted in the past year. Puerto Rico, a main conduit for drugs moving from Latin America into the United States, has seen a recent spike in drug-related murders.

García Padilla is the leader of the Common Wealth’s Popular Democratic Party (PPD).

The Puerto Rican publication El Nuevo Día reported that García Padilla wants Fortuño to increase the work of government agencies by enforcing 24-hour shifts and canceling vacations.

Of the 1,136 homicides recorded last year, the majority took place on the street, with 90 percent being caused by gun fire. If the current crisis continues as it has, García Padilla estimates that another 1,000 Puerto Ricans could lose their lives before the end of 2012, García Padilla said.

The violence is largely connected to drug trafficking and his opponents have accused Fortuño of focusing more on political favors than the drug crisis. The gubernatorial hopeful claims that although, major highway, Román Baldorioty de Castro was equipped with 1,000 security cameras, none of them have been activated.  

García Padilla's statements come four months before the November gubernatorial elections. In March, El Nuevo Día released a poll stating that the majority of Puerto Ricans see García Padilla as the "new face" of hope and change for Puerto Rico.

You can reach Viveka Garza-Gómez via Twitter: @ekita_2

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