After her mayoralty ended, María left politics. She married again and tried to rebuild her life. She was especially devoted to her children: "I owe them a good example", she once said. But the cartels didn't forget her. Emboldened by Mexico's almost absolute lack of accountability and justice, they waited until she had lost her security detail and then tracked her down. María was found dead last week. She died of a brutal blow to the head. When asked why the state's government hadn't kept a permanent watch over the young woman, Jesús Reyna, Michoacan´s interior minister, simply shrugged: "She never asked for it", said Reyna. María Santos Gorrostieta's name will now be added to the list of more than thirty Mexican mayors who have lost their lives simply for trying to govern where governing is impossible.
Felipe Calderon's presidency will come to an end in the next couple of weeks. He will probably argue that the six-year war that began in Michoacán and has taken over Mexico's life has been worthwhile. After all, a vast majority of the country's main drug dealers, including many of Michoacan's ruthless gangs, have been killed or captured. But for people like the late María Santos Gorrostieta, nothing at all has been gained. After all, one should not fear the criminal who tries to commit a crime: one should dread the one who feels free to come back and try it again, and again. Until he — inevitably, terribly — succeeds.
This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.