Things That Matter

Mexico’s Murder Rate Is At A Historical High And The Debate About Border Policies Is More Caliente Than Ever

Since former president Felipe Calderon Hinojosa launched a full-fledged military attack on Mexico’s drug cartels back in 2006, the country has been locked in a humanitarian crisis. Clandestine graveyards pop up all around the country and families take matters into their own hands and try to find their loved ones’ remains.

Entire towns live in fear of both the army and the cartel sicarios (hitmen). Young men are lured or kidnapped to become “soldiers” for organized crime, and young women fall prey to human traffickers who exploit their bodies. Some politicians and journalists live in fear of being executed. There are regions, such as particular municipalities in states such as Guerrero and Michoacán, where the authorities have ceased to try to restore the order and self-defense groups have popped up. Things in some regions of the country are, to say the least, dire. 

In 2018, a leftist candidate who had sought the presidency in two previous occasions, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, won the election and promised to stop violence and corruption. Things have been a bit more complicated than that. 

The first half of 2019 has seen the all-time high murder rate in the country’s history: at least 17,608 people have been murdered.

Credit: @Mauricio_35M / Twitter

Let that sink in. This number is just unbelievable: translate the figure into a small town and you will get the magnitude of the problem. Of course, many are blaming the incumbent president. To the murders one has to add the number of sexual assaults, kidnappings and other crimes that put people at risk. 

This figure translates into 97 murders per day!

Credit: @elarmadoguerra / Twitter

As the Associated Press reports, “Since Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador entered office in December 2018, there have been 20,599 murders recorded”. Things definitely cannot change de un dia para otro, but reality has really bitten deep into people’s hopes in the new administration. 

Numbers are actually increasing.

Credit: @AlDiaDallas / Twitter

The Daily Mail breaks down the numbers: “The number of murders grew by 5.3% compared to the same period of 2018, when 16,714 people were killed.

Mexico saw 3,080 killings in June, an increase of over 8% from the same month a year ago, according to official figures. The nation of almost 125 million now sees as many as 100 killings per day nationwide.”

Violence is particularly concentrated in the Northern states, as reported by the AP: “The northeastern state of Nuevo León reported 486 murders from January until June in contrast with 282 during the same period in 2018. In particular, drug cartel turf wars have become increasingly bloody in the northern state of Sonora, where the number of homicides was up by 69% in the first half of 2019. Officials registered 564 killings after 337 were murdered last year. But in Sinaloa, where the cartel of convicted drug lord Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán is based, homicides declined by 23% so far this year compared to last.” 

North of the Border conservative anti-immigration voices have seen this as an opportunity to spill their bile.

Credit: @ApostleRichThomas / Twitter

Like this dude, whose logic is just not right: man, people are FLEEING the violence, they are victims, not perpetrators! This type of logic makes us think of how damaging the label of “bad hombres” continues to be.

This is also the stance taken by the highest levels of government, as reported by Daily News Sri Lanka: “However, President Trump has often referred to Mexico ‘one of the most dangerous countries in the world’ and claimed the murder rate in the country has increased. A recent Trump tweet said “The Coyotes and Drug Cartels are in total control of the Mexico side of the Southern Border. They have labs nearby where they make drugs to sell into the U.S. Mexico, one of the most dangerous countries in the world, must eradicate this problem now. Also, stop the MARCH to U.S.”, and could raise questions about it being a ‘safe country’.”

Human rights activists, on the contrary, use this murder rate record to point out how inadequate the #RemainInMexico policy is.

Credit: @HumanRightsFirst / Twitter

Let’s repeat this again for those anti immigration voices: people migrate because they have no other choice in their home countries, not because they want to. They see it as a way of survival rather than as an opportunity to profit from the system. 

The crisis has also emboldened some pro-legalization voices.

Credit: Twitter. @mcgovern

He has got a point: the main problem is that Mexico is the passageway of drugs into the most profitable market in the world, the United States. A new legal framework would certainly reshuffle the status quo of criminal networks. Reality is a bit more complicated.

Others in the United States point out that some cities in the country are as violent as towns South of the Border.

Credit: @ChrisCoons / Twitter

Violence in Mexico is also a good opportunity to talk about communities that live at risk, such as some areas of Detroit – right here in the US.

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