Juarez Sees Record Drop in Violence During Easter Week

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Easter was the least violent week that Ciudad Juarez has seen in four years, even as some Central American countries, including Guatemala, continued to see high murder rates during what is typically one of the most peaceful holidays in Latin America.

As reported by El Diario, the first eight days of April saw the lowest number of criminal acts registered in Ciudad Juarez since drug-related violence began to escalate in 2008. According to the Attorney General’s office, 13 people were killed between April 1 and 8, representing an average of 1.6 homicides daily. This is the lowest homicide rate reported since January 2008, when an average of 1.4 people were killed daily.

Other reports indicate there was relative calm in coastal states like Veracruz and Guerreo, popular tourist destinations which saw dramatic increases in homicides last year. Resort city Acapulco, which reportedly saw 2011’s largest increase in violence at the municipal level, saw hotels reach 80 percent occupancy, the Guerrero government told AFP.

Other countries in Central America also reported seeing the expected decreases in crime-related homicides during Holy Week, although there was still a significant number of killings reported.

El Salvador’s National Police counted 49 homicides, a 46 percent decrease from the numbers registered last year.

The decrease was more neglible in Guatemala, where, according to President Otto Perez, Holy Week saw 85 crime-related deaths, compared to 97 registered in 2011.

Police in Honduras did not release statistics on the number of homicides registered during Holy Week, although Proceso reports that the morgue in San Pedro Sula, one of the world’s most violent cities, received “over 40 bodies” during one three-day period.

The National Police of Nicaragua reported 33 deaths during holy week, 21 of which were criminal acts.

InSight Crime Analysis

Crime rates usually drop during Holy Week, but the record low in homicides in Ciudad Juarez — arguably the city most identified with drug-related violence — points to some significant security advances. According to El Diario, the average number of daily homicides has been dropping in Juarez since August 2011, with 4.8 daily murders in September, 3.4 in November, and 2.8 in February. Even as Juarez remains the most violent city in Mexico, Holy Week provided another window into the city’s undeniable security gains.

But the relatively high death tolls in Central America are another remind of how crime-related violence is becoming more widely dispersed across the region. The exception seems to be El Salvador, where the most powerful criminal gangs have accepted a truce reportedly brokered by the Church.

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