By Eric L. Olson and Gabriella Ippolito
Our good friend Alejandro Hope – of Plata o Plomo fame – has just provided his analysis of the Mexican government’s official violence data for the first half of 2012. The data is made available by the Executive Secretariat of Mexico’s National Public Security System (Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública -SESNSP). The National Public Security System is the inter-governmental system that coordinates public security policy between the federal government, 31 states, the Federal District of Mexico City, and the municipalities. The Executive Secretariat is located within the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Secretaría de Gobernación) and the current Executive Secretary is José Oscar Vega Marín.
There are numerous caveats associated with these official figures. For one, Alejandro Hope believes they significantly under estimate the extent of violent crime. Additionally, the official report is based on self-reporting by Mexico City and all states except Puebla and includes six categories of violent crime of local jurisdiction.
Nevertheless, the official numbers also provide the basis of some comparative analysis of trends in violent crime. Here are some of the highlights from Hope’s latest blog post:
- Homicide rates remain more than two times higher than in 2006 but they decreased 6.5% during the first six months of 2012 as compared to 2011.
- The number of kidnappings also declined by 31%, auto theft by 10.5%, but extortion grew by 34%.
- While homicides declined from between January and March 2012, there was an important increase between April and June. While second quarters are generally higher than first quarters, the increase during April-June represents a reversal of three successive quarters of declining murder rates.
- Among states: Chihuahua had far fewer murders (down 27%) which Hope says is largely due to the major reduction in Ciudad Juárez. Sinaloa and Nuevo León also experienced declines, but other states such as Coahuila, (Torreón is the new most violent city in the country), Colima, Morelos and Guanajuato all registered over 20% growth in murders. So while homicides appear to be down overall, the intensity of homicides seems to be spreading.
Hope concludes by saying that while the overall homicide rate appears to be improving things are still not well. He estimates that it will take (at a minimum) the rest of the decade to get the level of violence down to pre-2007 levels, and predicts that this will complicate things for the new federal government should Enrique Peña Nieto’s election be confirmed. It was candidate Peña Nieto who promised to reduce the violence, kidnappings and extortion by 50%.
Gabriella Ippolito contributed to this blog post.