Comments, Globe, In Focus, Latin America

In Mexico: a government where all acts of violence reigned

The penultimate year of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s term will be historical with respect to homicides, but it will also mark a rise in other crimes such as kidnapping, robbery, and extortion amongst others, including the assassination of media professionals.


Enrique Peña Nieto – Photo by Armando Aguayo Rivera Flickr

Orlando Oramas León


The spiral of violence seems to overwhelm governmental efforts and claims thousands of victims in Mexico.

For example, the monthly statistics of the Sistema de Seguridad Pública (Public Security System) placed October as the most violent month since January 1997 with 2,371 homicides.

Even before 2017 comes to a close, it is already the year with the greatest number of murders under the management of the current government that began its term in 2013. Since then, there have been 20,878 murders.

But the data still does not surpass the record of 2011, the worst year in security matters, with 22,885 violent deaths.

This was the end of the term for President Felipe Calderón of the Partido Acción Nacional (National Action Party). He had declared the war on drug cartels and put the Mexican Armed Forces on the front line, where they continue to this day.

Various specialists consider that the trafficking of drugs and the fight for lines of distribution and market between criminal groups are the principal causes of the wave of violence in the last months, even given the capture and death of important bosses within these organisations.

The most worrying thing is that there are no signs of the tide going down. Daily reports, especially summaries of weekend occurrences in various locations over the country, Acapulco, for example, bear testimony to murder at close range, beheadings and the discovery of undocumented graves, all of which result in morbid and daily news reports.

According to records, January of this year came up to 1,927 intentional deaths; February, 1,838; March, 2,022; April, 1,959; May, 2,192; June, 2,238; July, 2,030; August, 2,116; September, 2,185 and October, 2,371.

The above adds up to 20,878 investigation files in the first 10 months of the year, in contrast with the 20,574 that were opened in 2016, 16,909 in 2015, 15,520 in 2014, 18,106 in 2013 and 21,459 in 2012.

So far this year, Guerrero heads the list with 1,924 intentional homicides, followed by Lower California, with 1,733; State of Mexico, 1,664; Velacruz, 1,382; Chihuahua, 1,288; Sinaloa, 1,156; Jalisco, 1,093 and Michoacán with 1,018.

The director of the Observatorio Nacional Ciudadano (National Citizen Observatory), Francisco Rivas, considered that the number of intentional homicides reported so far this year was “worrying”, given that it is the highest in the history of the country.

“In a context where it seems that the authorities do not know what to do, for a while now we have been listening to excuses around these numbers and we are not seeing things getting better”, he reproached.

“If a few years ago violence was concentrated, today it is diluted over the national territory. The other aspect is that the commission of these crimes is much more varied. We cannot affirm that the problem is only in homicides, if not we are talking about the growth of practically all crimes”, he specified.

In a recent appearance before the Senate, the Secretary of the Interior, Miguel Ángel Osorio, recognised the issue although he explained that the national security system was obsolete and that it must be changed. Mexico faces a “very complicated” situation with regards to the matter of public security, said the senior federal official, who recognised that the armed forces have been fundamental in re-establishing security in many communities.

However, he warned that its participation in the battle against organised crime cannot and should not be permanent. He made clear: It is fundamental that local governments thoroughly take on their responsibilities with regard to this issue. He agreed that security is “a challenge that does not know territorial nor ideological boundaries” and it requires a reform on a model that comes from the last century, which does not answer to the current reality.

It is needed, he emphasised, to cease being a country where around 600 municipalities do not have a police force and where, out of more than 1,800 forces that exist, half of those have less than 20 personnel.

He explained that 40% of the police bodies’ personnel earn less than 4,600 pesos a month (around 250 dollars) and that for the most part they do not receive the equipment, training and the working conditions that they require.

On the other hand, the Mexican government captured most of the components on a list of most-wanted criminals in the last four years. This was proposed as a part of the strategy against the lack of public safety.

One of these is Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, boss of the Sinaloa cartel, who was extradited, like other bosses of criminal groups, to the United States.

Many times, though, dismantling the leadership of these criminal organisations sparks bloody battles for power that mix in with the clashes between cartels.

These battles include the ones over control of drug dealing in cities and municipalities. I mention Acapulco again, one of the most emblematic spas of Mexican tourism and probably the city with the highest index of violence in the country despite the deployment of the army, navy and federal police.

On this subject, we must not forget Mexico’s vicinity to the United States, the largest drug market. Neither must we forget that successes against the drug cartels in Colombia transferred the problem to Mexican territory, where fields of opium poppy and marijuana grow. (PL)

(Translated by Sarah Claman) – Photos: Pixabay

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