Spike in Mexico Kidnappings Indicates President’s Security Failures

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An NGO in Mexico reported that kidnappings rose 56 percent in the first half of 2014 compared with the same period last year, illustrating the failure of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s security policies to tackle this crime.

According to Alto al Secuestro (Stop the Kidnapping), 1,766 kidnappings took place between January and June this year, while 1,130 occurred during those months in 2013.

The organization also announced that 4,609 abductions had been reported since December 2012, when the present administration began, although in 517 of these cases no investigation was opened.

Of the kidnappings, 72 percent were concentrated in the Federal District and the states of Mexico (Edomex), Morelos, Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Veracruz and Michoacan, according to the organization.

InSight Crime Analysis

In their press release, Alto al Secuestro does not give the methodology used to arrive at the figure, which is more than double the 839 kidnappings reported by Mexico’s National Public Security System (SNSP) for the period January through May of this year. This is an increase of 23 percent from kidnappings recorded by the SNSP in the first five months of 2013. These official statistics showed an increase in kidnappings of some 20 percent from 2012 to 2013.

The rise in kidnappings is bad news for the president, who from the beginning has made a decrease in violent crime — including kidnapping, homicides and extortion — a key security objective. While homicides have apparently declined, the failure to rein in kidnapping and extortion has been reflected in a steadily declining approval rating for Peña Nieto.

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The trend stands in sharp contrast to a steep overall decline in kidnappings in Colombia since 2002 and a consistent drop since 2012 — the year the Colombian government entered into peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the guerrilla group agreed to stop kidnapping for extortion.

While in Colombia the declining role of illegal armed actors has been a key contributor to reducing the incidence of kidnappings, Mexico’s increases have corresponded with a fragmenting criminal landscape, which has pushed organizations to diversify their revenue by turning to activities like kidnapping.

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