Violence in Mexico: How to Stop the Bloodshed

The highest rates of violence were recorded in the states of Guanajuato (1,864), Michoacán (1,587), Baja California (1,567), the Federal District (1,475), Jalisco (1,218), and Chihuahua (1,232) during that period.

Violence in Mexico: How to Stop the Bloodshed
Simultaneous violent attacks were registered in Tijuana, Mexicali, and Tecate this year. Credit: Ruido en la Red

Violence is not prevented by separations, exclusion, locks, doors, alarms, or weapons, but when the collective use of public and private spaces is strengthened. It is controlled when equal limits are established for all, and prevented when we learn to relate to others differently based on equality, says Nelia Tello Peón, an academic at UNAM's National School of Social Work (ENTS).

The coordinator of the Interdisciplinary University Seminar on School Violence and former director of the academic entity, explains that it must be understood that "we are equal, but different, and such diversity is complementary: we cannot be human without the others; we need each other, and in that complementarity, we must speak of us that builds a non-violent society, in a way of solidarity coexistence that is generated from acceptance."

On the occasion of the International Day of Nonviolence, which is commemorated on October 2, the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's birth, in honor of the leader of the Indian independence movement, the university professor adds that violence is a problem that affects us all and must also be recognized in what seems inconsequential.

According to the university expert, forms of coexistence must be found that offer the possibility of rapprochement, acceptance and recognition of the other, and the search for peace that avoids destruction.

The principle of nonviolence, according to the UN, "has universal relevance and seeks to achieve a culture of peace, tolerance, and understanding. As Gandhi said, nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of humanity. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man."

Public transport units are being set on fire and fares are being violently lowered.
Public transport units are being set on fire and fares are being violently lowered.

Violence in Mexico is exponential

Violence is a term that is used for different circumstances, apparently unrelated to each other: it can be used to talk about extermination camps, war, assassinations, beatings, or spankings. "There is also a tendency to talk about it from a fractioned perspective: physical, emotional, economic, gender, etc."

In its different expressions, as Juliana González, a philosopher at UNAM, says, it is always a force that destroys, indomitable, that sweeps, that dominates, and the last possibility of expression of a human being; "it is in the face of impotence that one acts with violence," the ENTS academic points out.

It progresses from an extremely visible form to being cultural, subtle, and accepted by all; when we can see it, we are accustomed to it; it is internalized violence.

It is not a banal act that happens suddenly, but one that accumulates, is stored, and at a certain moment it explodes; it is a force that leads to the impotence and invisibility of the other. It is a relationship of domination and submission where the one who performs it does not feel recognized, and when exercising it has the certainty that it exists, it manifests itself.

Moreover, it is exponential; it goes from the micro to the macro and vice versa, and it has different expressions: structural or state; family; gender; intergenerational; and so on. Such fragmentation allows us to be "less burdened". Moreover, what happens to others is alien to us.

For years, it was a quality for women to be submissive, when it is, in fact, a demonstration of submission to someone who dominates them. "Violence ends up being translated into everyday life as necessary acts; in the beginning, it is unreasoned obedience, an act of imposition that violates".

Attention to violence in Baja California.
Attention to violence in Baja California.

Figures in Mexico

According to data from the Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection released last August in the press, the number of intentional homicides was 2,679 in July; that is, 0.34 percent more than in June when 2,670 were registered. In 2022, up to August 20, 18,93 homicides were reported.

The states with the highest levels are Guanajuato, 1,864; Michoacán, 1,587; Baja California, 1,567; the State of Mexico, 1,475; Jalisco, 1,218; and Chihuahua, 1,232, during that period.

Last July, there were 54 femicides, which represents a 38.64 percent reduction compared to the 88 reported in June 2022, and a 25 percent drop compared to the 72 reported in the seventh month of 2021. It was reported that there was also, in July, a historic low of 35 kidnapping victims.

There is an assault going on simultaneously in Tecate, Mexicali, and Tijuana.
There is an assault going on simultaneously in Tecate, Mexicali, and Tijuana.

In the document, it says that the state security forces advised that all staff be protected right away. Therefore, the resumption of activities will be delayed until authorized by the Department of State through the Minister of Diplomatic Security Advisor, the document states.

A culture of peace

Faced with the panorama we live in, says Nelia Tello, "we should be able to be horrified and think that it is necessary to act and not just comment on it, because the latter only serves as an outlet, and our idea of acting ends up in shared indignation."

The phenomenon of violence has diverse expressions and appears in different circumstances. "Where there is someone who avoids it, it doesn't happen," and that is why we need to be able to do something else.

According to the expert, nonviolence does not consist of remaining impassive but reacting, but without more violence. "What has traditionally been done are boycotts, hunger strikes, solidarity mobilizations, letters with signatures, etc."

The concept has universal relevance and seeks to achieve a culture of peace, tolerance, and understanding. The UN notes: "The principle of nonviolence—also known as nonviolent resistance—rejects the use of physical violence to achieve social or political change. Many populations around the world have adopted this form of social struggle in campaigns for social justice.

That principle is often used as a synonym for pacifism, and since the mid-20th century, the term has been adopted by movements for social change that do not focus on opposition to war, the organization says.

He also says that one of its main ideas is that rulers only have power if the people agree with them. This is why this theory tries to weaken rulers by getting the people to stop agreeing with them and work with them.

The personal transformation has to transcend the collective. In addition to worrying about our reconstruction, we must learn to relate to others differently; we have to replace our behaviors; we relate to each other based on equality.

The gender struggle, for example, is important, but change must occur in everyone. To create a different world, we must work together to build peace and avoid the imposition of force through constant dialogue, concludes Nelia Tello.