The administration of Mexican President Felipe Calderon has backed down from its previous position and released statistics on the number of organized crime-linked homicides in 2011, which were up 11 percent from the previous year.
According to records released yesterday by the Mexican Attorney General’s Office, 12,903 such killings took place last year. This brings the official tally of those who have died in the country’s “drug war” since Calderon began cracking down on cartels in December 2006 to 47,515.
The 2011 figure amounts to an 11 percent increase from the year before. However, the 2010 figure was 70 percent higher than in 2009, suggesting that the trend may be turning around. The government also stressed that the vast majority of the 2011 homicides — 70 percent — were due to rivalries between gangs in only eight of the country’s 32 states, mostly in the north.
InSight Crime Analysis
The decision to publish the 2011 figures came as something of a surprise. As InSight Crime has reported, earlier this week the government said it would not release the information. While it cited national security concerns, many speculated that it was simply trying to mask a rise in homicides, and prevent criticism of the government security strategy. This would have been a change in policy for the Calderon administration, which has been relatively open about statistics on crime-related deaths in the past.
Still, some suggest that the actual number dead due to organized crime is much higher. Mexico’s peace movement has long been critical of the government’s statistics, and the Tijuana-based Seminario Zeta magazine recently claimed that more than 19,000 were killed by criminal syndicates in 2011.