Peña Nieto Highlights Drop in Murders in State of the Union Speech

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Mexican homicides have dropped 13 percent in a year, according to official figures, though this is not necessarily great cause for celebration.

In his first State of the Union Address, President Enrique Peña Nieto said there had been a 13.7 percent drop in the murder rate between January and August of 2013 compared to the same period the year before. He attributed this to improved coordination between different law enforcement agencies.

Murders linked to organized crime had dropped 20 percent, he said, highlighting even greater drops in some of Mexico’s most violent states — Tamaulipas (36.2 percent), Chihuahua (37.2 percent) and Nuevo Leon (46.5 percent), reported El Diario.

The most recent report from the government’s National System of Public Security revealed there had been a total of 12,595 recorded murders since Peña Nieto took office, reported Animal Politico. The report also recorded the seizure of more than 80 tons of drugs, mostly marijuana and cocaine, alongside approximately $4 million in cash and 982 weapons.

InSight Crime Analysis

While undoubtedly a good thing that less Mexicans were murdered in the first half of 2013 than 2012, the unfortunate fact remains that Mexico’s murder rate is still extremely high. Even if Peña Nieto’s administration succeeds in cutting the murder rate in half, by the time the mid-term elections come around more than 20,000 people will have been killed under his presidency.

Criminal violence has tended to show a gradual downward spiral in recent years, but progress is very slow indeed. Different government figures often contradict each other, making it impossible to know what is accurate, and the categorization of murders according to whether they are related to organized crime or not is problematic, again making the information hard to trust.

Meanwhile, almost all murders go unsolved, which points to the major reforms required in the judicial and security forces if truly tangible improvements in citizen safety are ever to be achieved.

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