No letup on violence: April crime numbers are as bad as expected

Violence in 2015: A look at the numbers

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Alejandro Hope
Source: El Daily Post

There was blood. The tide turned in 2015. As predicted, for the first time since 2011, homicides went up on an annual basis. Not by much: murders increased 7.6% compared to 2014. But a trend reversal is a trend reversal, not matter how you parse the data. And if you look beyond the headline number, the situation looks worse. Here are some of the details:

1. According to the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Safety (SESNSP), there were 18650 homicide victims in 2015, up from 17324 in 2014. But that is likely an undercount: in 2014, INEGI, the national statistics board, reported 20,010 victims. If the same difference between the two series held in 2015 (we will know in July), then the total was probably 21,541. 

2. Some states that were improving continued to improve. Chihuahua stands out in that category: it posted its fifth consecutive year of declining criminal violence. Homicides in that state declined 11% last year. A similar tale can be told about other northern states, such as Nuevo León (-8%) and Coahuila (-24%). The northern border exception was Baja California, where homicides went up 16%.

3. By contrast, central and southern Mexico had a pretty rough year. In Guerrero, things went from awful to terrifying: there were more than 2000 homicides in 2015, up 33% from 2014. In Jalisco, the number of victims increased 12%. The Federal District (Mexico City) posted its most violent year since the mid-1990’s. Guanajuato, a state that usually flies under the radar in terms of violence, saw its number of victims increase by a quarter.

4. There is no simple reason behind the recent increase in violence, but if I had to bet, I would place some money on heroin as a major driver. Guerrero, the center of opium poppy production, accounted on its own for almost half of the additional homicides in 2015.

Bottom line. It’s now official: 2015 was a bad year. Not a terrible one for sure, but the fact that homicides are on the rise again is deeply worrying. As we saw between 2008 and 2011, violence can be a self-reinforcing process. Blood has the rather annoying custom of bringing more blood.

This and that

The final letter. Great piece here at El Daily Post on the potential connections between the now disgraced former governor of Coahuila, Humberto Moreira, and the infamous Zetas. Read it through and read it twice. You won’t regret it.

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