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Mexico murder rate reaches record high

January 21, 2020

The number of homicides recorded last year in the North American country rose to 34,582. President Lopez Obrador took office in December 2018 pledging to reduce violence in the murder-plagued country.

Mexico crime scene
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/R. Blackwell

Mexico reported on Monday the highest annual figure of murders since records began more than 20 years ago.

A total of 34,582 cases of homicide occurred in the Latin American country in 2019, up from 33,369 the year before.

Of all the months, June was the month with the highest number of victims, totaling 2,993, detailed the report released by the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System.

Nevertheless, there was a slight drop in the figure in December 2019 compared with the previous month.

'Practically identical'

The overall increase will come as a blow to President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who assumed office with a pledge to pacify the country with a softer approach to security. However, an expert on crime issues at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) said the statistics were "practically identical" over the last two years, given the number of inhabitants.

Read more: Germany returns antiquities to Mexico

Samuel Gonzalez Ruiz explained there was actually a "stabilization" in the murder rate when the rate of 23.22 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2018 compared with that of 23.23 per 100,000 in 2019 was considered.

The state with the highest homicide figure per 100,000 inhabitants was Colima, located on the central Pacific coast, and the least was Yucatan, the tourist spot famed for its Mayan ruins.

Double trouble

Crime in Mexico is often intertwined with the United States. Drug traffic-related murders in the Latin American nation are often committed with weapons smuggled in from the US. Meanwhile, American overdose deaths, from drugs that frequently originate in or travel through Mexico, surged to about 70,000 annually in recent years, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Two high-profile episodes in recent months focused attention on Mexico's challenge to keep its citizens safe. In October, Lopez Obrador's security cabinet decided to release the captured son of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to avoid bloodshed between authorities and criminals that the government worried would affect civilians. Secondly, in November, nine members of a Mormon family with dual American-Mexican citizenship were killed in an attack by cartel gunmen.

jsi/rt (EFE, AFP)

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