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Mexico Govt Reports Drop In Drug-Related Murders

A 2011 protest against violence in Mexico A 2011 protest against violence in Mexico

There has been a 17 percent drop in organized crime-related homicides during the first four months of President Enrique Peña Nieto's administration, according to Mexican government figures, although there are reasons to question the statistics.

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Government Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong announced that between December 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013, the country had registered 4,249 murders related to organized crime, compared to 5,127 during the last four months in office of former President Felipe Calderon, reported Animal Politico. According to the Associated Press, the figure for Calderon's last four months was smaller, 4,934 murders, meaning the new figure represented a smaller decrease of 14 percent.

Analysts were skeptical about the figures, reported the AP, due to inconsistencies in reporting between different states and the federal district. Also casting doubt on the figures is the fact that Mexico's government uses a set of subjective critieria in order to determine what constitutes an "organized-crime related" death, such as the type of weapons and the number of dead found at the crime scene. 

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Last August, Mexico's federal security ministry announced that it would no longer release statistics on murders linked to organized crime, claiming that attempting to categorize and count such deaths had been a "failed experiment" which "deeply undermined criminal procedure." The government's argument that the classification was arbitrary and subjective was convincing, although critics accused it of wanting to hide data for political reasons. 

It is not clear how these latest numbers released by Peña Nieto administration are based on a more reliable critieria than that criticized by the Calderon's government. Nor has Peña Nieto's government addressed this issue when releasing the new figures, making the numbers hard to trust and giving weight to the argument that information is being manipulated for political gain.

Some newspapers, which began counting the organized crime-related murders during Calderon's administration, continue their own homicide tallies. Reforma said in mid-March that the "drug-related" homicides were higher in the first three months Peña Nieto than the last three months of Calderon. Milenio had numbers that were consistent with the current administration's. La Jornada registered significantly lower levels than the others but said there was an upward trend. 

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