Latin America

Mexico murder rate rises in first three months of 2019

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The first three months of 2019 have seen a 9.6% increase in murders in Mexico, official figures suggest.

The report says 8,493 people were murdered from 1 January to 31 March, a 9.6% rise from the same period in 2018.

The figures contradict statements by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who had said the murder rate had not risen since he took office.

Mr López Obrador was sworn in on 1 December. He had campaigned on a promise to drive down violence.

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The figures from the National System for Public Security are particularly worrying as 2018 had the highest murder rate since Mexico began keeping records of homicides.

The state with the highest murder rate so far in 2019 was Guanajuato, in central Mexico, where two powerful drug cartels – Jalisco New Generation and Santa Rosa de Lima – are fighting for control.

AFP

Homicides in MexicoSource: Mexico's National System for Public Security

The numbers provided by the National System for Public Security were published just over a week after President López Obrador clashed with journalist Jorge Ramos at a press briefing over whether there had been a improvement in security in Mexico.

"Our data shows that we've brought the situation under control," the president said.

"The data I have shows something else, you're not controlling, to the contrary, many Mexicans continue to die," Mr Ramos challenged the president.

"They have not risen," President López Obrador said before adding: "I'm not saying we've solved the problem."

Mr López Obrador said he had inherited a violent country from his predecessors. Successive Mexican presidents have tried to drive down the country's high murder rates for years, even declaring a "war on drugs" in an attempt to defeat Mexico's powerful drug cartels.

But the number of murder victims has risen as the cartels splintered and fought for control of disputed areas.

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