New statistics show that drug cartel related violence may be falling in Mexico.
Is there a downward trend in Mexico’s organized crime-related violence? Yesterday Mexico’s government announced that in the four months since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office on December 1, analysts tallied 4,249 homicides that appeared to bear the markings of organized crime. This total represents a drop of 685 from the 4,934 over the same period twelve months earlier, during the final year of the presidency of Felipe Calderón. Many observers have applauded Peña Nieto’s shift away from drug war rhetoric towards and agenda that focuses more on maximizing economic growth. This blog post on AnimalPolitico explains that “during Calderón’s sexenio, publications and news was dispersed publicly about the 37 organized crime capos…showing their names, photographs, aliases, and [information about] the organizations they directed.” Peña Nieto’s administration, by contrast, has published aggregated statistics about arrests and drug seizures but has avoided making individual incidents part of the national publicity agenda.
Violent crime has not disappeared. For instance a recent parade commemorating the death of Mexican folk hero Emliano Zapata was attacked twice by gunmen. But, overall, the decline in government-led publicity for the issue combined with an apparent drop in organized crime related murders have led to a real improvement in the perception of crime and security within Mexico. According to information published by Mexico’s National Statistics Institute, in March the country’s official Public Security Perception Index increased 10.1 percent.
It remains to be seen what impact a perceived improvement in security could have on economic activity.