MEXICO CITY — A former presidential candidate in Mexico's ruling party has gone missing, authorities said Saturday, the latest in a spate of political violence presumably linked to drug cartels.
The empty vehicle of Diego Fernandez de Cevallos, a former federal deputy, senator and presidential candidate from the conservative National Action Party, was found at his ranch in the state of Queretaro, the federal Attorney General's Office said in a statement. The site contained "evidence of violence," it added.
Fernandez ran for president on his party's ticket in 1994 but lost to Ernesto Zedillo, a candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party.
A news website based in Queretaro, Plaza de Armas, cited unnamed friends of Fernandez saying that bloodstains were found in the bullet-riddled vehicle, abandoned at his La Cabana ranch.
The 69-year-old Fernandez, whose white beard and expensive suits helped distinguish him from other politicians, runs an influential law firm defending criminal defendants. He also owns several ranches in the Queretaro region.
He remains a major figure in the party of President Felipe Calderon, who delayed a trip to Spain for more than an hour Saturday afternoon as news bulletins announced the disappearance. Calderon's office issued a statement calling Fernandez "a key politician in Mexico's democratic transition" a decade ago.