It is a very tragic story currently unfolding in America’s southern neighbor where deadly violence is now almost a way of life.
According to data released by Mexico’s National System for Public Security, murders this year in the Latin American country are at an all-time high. Statistics show there has been more killings in the first six months of 2019 than ever before in the country’s history. (Mexicans started keeping records on their country’s murder rate in 1996.)
The total number of victims for the first half of 2019 comes to more than 17,000 people, a new record. This represents a 5.6 per cent increase in killings over the same time period last year. And also amounts to about 90 people slaughtered per day.
Three thousand murders were recorded in June, 2019, alone, which is an increase of 232 over the same month last year. This is the most murders ever recorded for a single month.
These figures do not include victims of other serious crimes such as, for example, kidnapping, attempted murder or extortion.
The Mexican 2019 six-month homicide figure almost matches the American figure for the whole year of 2017 at 17.234, according to the FBI. There was also about a 7.6 per cent drop in the American rate in 2018. But America also has, according to Wikipedia, a population of 327,167.434. By contrast, Mexico’s is 126,577, 691.
Mexico’s horrifying figures stand in contrast to the 13,985 murders committed in the first six months of 2018, which was also a record year for homicides. The year 2018 also saw a 33 per cent increase in the murder rate over 2017, which, again, was yet another record year for killings in its own right.
So far in 2019, Mexico is on pace to easily surpass the 29,111 killings for all of last year by several thousand.
Much of the homicidal violence in Mexico is due to the notorious drug cartels which seem to murder with impunity. The homicide rate in Mexico had actually dropped between 2012 and 2015, causing people to think that the worst of the cartel violence was over. But this wasn’t so.
“Security experts say fueling the violence is the fact that many cartels have splintered into factions that have engaged in increasingly bloody battles over control,” stated a Fox news report.
The most violent state in Mexico, for example, is Guanajuato where the cartels Jalisco New Generation and Santa Rosa de Lima are fighting each other. There are currently 947 murders under investigations in this state. Cartel violence is usually about drug distribution and control of territory.
“In 2011, the Jalisco cartel dumped 35 bodies on an expressway in the Gulf state of Veracruz,” stated an Associated Press report.” In 2012, the Zetas dumped 48 decapitated bodies on a highway in northern Mexico and left 14 severed heads near a city hall.”
But the places in Mexico with the most homicides are the states of Veracruz, Chihuahua and Jalisco as well as Mexico City.
One of the most violent cities in Mexico, however, is the city of Tijuana, just south of the Californian border. Tijuana had 2,519 murders in 2018, a 40 per cent increase over 2017, which was itself a record-breaking year. Just last month, Mexico’s Citizens’ Council for Public Safety deemed Tijuana the most “violent” city in the world.
The violence in Mexico is simply reaching incredible dimensions, incomprehensible to most people.
For example, earlier this month police found 19 bodies hanging from bridges or hacked up. Nine were hanging from an overpass.
All had been shot to death. Some had their hands tied and some had their pants pulled down.
“Two of the bodies hung by ropes from the overpass by their necks and one of the dismembered bodies were women,” said Adrian Lopez Solis, state attorney general for the state of Michoacan where the killings took place.
As well, the murderers hung a banner at the site of their killings with a message. The banner bore the initials of the very violent Jalisco New Generation cartel and the message read: “Be a patriot, kill a Viagra.” The Viagra is a rival drug cartel.
“This kind of theatrical violence where you don’t just kill, but you brag about killing is meant to intimidate and send a message to the authorities,” said Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope.
Earlier, cartels did not make a show of publicly displaying their murder victims.
“For years, cartels had seemed loath to draw attention to themselves with mass public display of bodies,” stated an Associated Press story. “Instead, the gangs went to great lengths to hide bodies in clandestine burial pits or dissolving corpses in caustic chemicals.”
In another act of cartel violence, which would astound most Americans, last May the Jalisco New Generation gangsters, in a “particularly brazen attack,” drove one night “in a convoy of pickups and SUVs”, openly marked with the letters of their cartel, through the Michoacan city of Zamora. They shot up police vehicles and killed or wounded several police officers.
This recent killing spree in Michoacan of 19 dead is similar to the 2006-2012 drug war in Mexico. The terror of those turbulent years in Michoacan state lasted until ranchers and farmers rose up in a vigilante group and drove the dominant cartel back then, La Familia, out of the state.
One of the former organizers of the vigilante group, however, in a very telling statement, recently told the Associated Press he wants to see the army return to his state.
“We’re worse off now than we were then,” he stated.
The question remains now whether this slaughter and record-breaking growth in the Mexican murder rate year after year can be stopped.
The president of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office last December, “insists it is under control.” But Obrador has “clashed” with reporters about over this.
One such reporter was Univision’s Jorge Ramos. According to Fox News, Obrador told Ramos: “Our data shows that we’ve brought this situation under control.”
Ramos, however, didn’t let Obrador off the hook, correctly responding: “The data I have shows something else, you’re not controlling, to the contrary, many Mexicans continue to die.”
However, to his credit, Obrador says he intends to establish a new, 18,000 member National Guard to combat the cartels. Whether this will have an impact remains to be seen but does indicate the seriousness of the situation.
Perhaps a big reason for the extraordinarily high homicide rate in Mexico is that “nearly all such murders go unsolved and unpunished.”
“The number one issue we are dealing with in Mexico is impunity. The impunity rate for regular crimes is 90 per cent…” said a human rights activist in The Guardian newspaper.
Another possible reason is that this Latin American country, like many Arab countries, have not developed beyond the acceptance of such violence. They appear to have remained more violent than other societies and peoples. In order to deal with this, Mexicans probably will have to look inwards, do some soul-searching, in order to find answers in order to change this terrible situation plaguing their nation. Which is something they can only do themselves.