InSight Map: Counting Federal Casualties in Mexico

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The Mexican government has announced that since 2000, 470 federal forces have been killed in fighting against organized crime, with 84 percent of that number coming during the presidency of Felipe Calderon.

According to El Universal, reports handed over after requests made via the Federal Institute for the Access to Public Information (IFAI) show that 332 of those killed were members of the Federal Police, while the remaining 132 belonged to the marines or the army. The number of federal personnel killed during the Calderon administration compares with recent reports of 2,076 police officers dead during the same period.

More than half of overall deaths in the country were concentrated in five states: Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, Michoacan, Guerrero, and Tamaulipas. In five other states – Baja California Sur, Yucatan, Tlaxcala, Quintana Roo, and Tabasco – no federal troops have died since 2000, according to the report.

Almost 84 percent of the deaths are said to have come during the Calderon administration. Calderon has made his reliance on the army the hallmark of his security policy, first sending the military after drug traffickers in Michoacan days after his inauguration on December 1, 2006.

However, the figures for military troops killed conflict with previous reports on the army, leaving one wondering both how to explain the different figures for such a basic piece of information, and how reliable any of the reports coming out of the Mexican government really are.

For instance, according to August reports using figures from Mexico’s Secretariat of Defense (SEDENA), 191 soldiers and marines had been killed in operations against drug traffickers during Calderon’s time in office. In October 2010, however, SEDENA offered a figure of 111 soldiers killed from January 2007 through July 2010. Interestingly, the same figure of 111 soldiers killed appeared as well in reports from July 2009.

Furthermore, according to the book “Politics in Mexico: The Democratic Consolidation” by Roderic Ai Camp and also based on an IFAI request of SEDENA, 55 soldiers were killed during the first three years of the Vicente Fox administration. While not entirely inconsistent with the military’s most recent report, such a large proportion of dead soldiers – 39 percent of the 132 reported most recently– coming from just the first half of the Fox administration, coupled with the much heavier reliance on the military under Calderon, is an unlikely proposition.

As hard as it may be to believe, these consistently conflicting statistics seem to indicate that the Mexican armed forces is not keeping very close track of how many of its soldiers have died and under what


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