Perceptions of Insecurity in Mexico Rising Under Peña Nieto

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A new poll says perceptions of insecurity rose more than 70 percent in the first months of Enrique Peña Nieto’s presidency, suggesting the Mexico population are not buying in to his attempts to alter the public narrative on security issues.

According to the annual National Crime Victimization and Public Safety Perception Survey (Envipe) survey carried out by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi), 72.3 percent of Mexicans say they feel insecure, up from 66.6 percent in the year before. Over half of respondents — 57.8 percent — said that insecurity was their main concern.

The poll also examined perceptions of corruption in state institutions, which have fallen slightly across the board, but still remain high. The institution seen as most corrupt is the transit police, with 77.8 percent of respondents viewing them as corrupt, followed by the preventative municipal police, with 67.9 percent, and the prosecutors from the public ministry with 65 percent. While all branches of the police and judicial system scored over 50 percent, the military fared better, with just 22.1 percent believing the army is corrupt and just 14.8 percent the marines.


InSight Crime Analysis

Enrique Peña Nieto’s security policies have been characterized not only by a shift in priorities and tactics but also by an attempt to change the public narrative on drug war violence. The militaristic rhetoric has been toned down, as have media spectacles such as the fanfare surrounding the capture of major narcos, which even no longer involve the previously inevitable perp walk. This tactic of down playing the drug war rather than hyping it up has been aimed squarely at public perceptions. 

However, these rhetorical shifts have not been matched by security improvements. While homicides have, according to government claims, been falling, crimes more likely to affect law-abiding citizens such as kidnapping and extortion have continued to rise rapidly. Until these crimes begin to fall, then as the poll confirms, it is unlikely Peña Nieto’s PR campaigns will have a serious impact on public perceptions of insecurity.

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