Mexico facing the challenge of lowering the highest murder rate in its history


The new Mexican government faces the complex challenge of reducing the highest murder rate in its history after announcing on Monday shocking figures of homicides occurred in 2018 that reflect an increase of 15% over the previous year.

With 33,341 victims of intentional homicide, the strategy of combating violence, adopted two years ago, seems unsuccessful.
With 33,341 victims of intentional homicide, the strategy of combating violence, adopted two years ago, seems unsuccessful.

With 33,341 victims of intentional homicide, the strategy to combat violence, adopted two years ago, seems to have failed, something that forces President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to take measures in which the controversial National Guard and the fight against fuel theft take center stage. .

The director of the consultancy in risk analysis, communication and politics Etelekt, Rubén Salazar, tells Efe that there has been a close relationship for years between the theft of fuel and the increase in murders.

"Taking control of this illegal activity in states like Guanajuato increased the rates of intentional homicides," he says.

This statement coincides with the report Victims of crimes of the common law 2018, disclosed yesterday by the Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection (SSPC) and that points to the state of Guanajuato, in which the Salamanca refinery is located, as the state with most homicides, 3,290.

Since last December, the new federal administration decided to put a stop to the fuel looting suffered years ago by the state oil company, Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex).

According to official sources, in just a month and a half the authorities have blocked the accounts of 42 companies, arrested more than 400 people and initiated 1,831 investigation folders.

This has brought adverse consequences, most recently, a tragic explosion last Friday due to a fuel leak in the municipality of Tlahuelilpan, in the central state of Hidalgo, which has claimed 89 lives so far.

Despite this hard collateral damage, the analyst said that if this pulse of fuel theft is successful, "there may be a downward inertia in the homicides by the end of this year."

It does not seem easy, because according to the expert they foresee "a reaction of the cartels" to the measures of López Obrador.

On the other hand, the creation of the National Guard, a corporation that will be integrated by members of the military, naval and federal police, under civilian control is another of the measures with which it is intended to end the insecurity of the country.

However, it has been harshly criticized from the beginning by human rights organizations and even by people close to Obrador, such as the leftist deputy and campaign coordinator, Tatiana Clouthier.

Criticism arises mainly from the fear of a militarization of the country that clashes with the indisputable need to stop the waves of violence.

The security analyst of the Group of Economists and Associates (GEA) Alejandro Hope tells Efe that he does not expect to see "in the short term" an effect of the National Guard in the decrease of the murders and believes that the same troops will be used that are already deployed by Mexican territory.

The president intends to recruit in 2019 about 20,000 new troops, but the political scientist believes that his incorporation would take "between 6 and 8 months, at best."

By 2019, it predicts that Mexico "will reach a zero growth rate by mid-year" but that it will close with the homicides "a bit higher than in 2018".

Salazar, on the other hand, is less critical of the new military corps, stating that for years he has already submitted to a militarization of the federal police, having at his disposal "vehicles and weapons to wage war."

The doubts and concerns of citizens and organizations, the expert considers natural in a country that historically distrusts the authority, but indicates that "a military command is not unreasonable, because according to the observations of recent years, in Mexico the police have obeyed civilian commanders, specifically state politicians who were related to organized crime. "