When Enrique Pena Nieto assumed office as Mexico’s new president in late 2012, an expectation floated in the air of a reduction in the narco-violence that marred the country during the presidency of Felipe Calderon.
Yet an investigation by a Tijuana weekly contends that exactly the opposite has happened.
According to the Zeta newspaper, more gangland-style murders were committed during the first 11 months of the Pena Nieto administration than in the last 11 months of the Calderon administration. Zeta recently reported that its research revealed 19,016 such killings were carried out from December 1, 2012, to October 30, 2013, compared with 18,161 “executions” during the last 11 months of Calderon’s government.
Zeta’s homicide numbers contrast with the 17,068 gangland-style slayings reported by the official National Public Safety System (SNSP) in the first 11 months of the Pena Nieto era. However, the SNSP registered an increase in another violent crime, kidnapping, in the same time frame. According to the SNSP, 1,546 kidnapping cases were opened by legal authorities in the most recent 11-month period examined, while 1,196 similar cases were initiated in the concluding 11 months of the Calderon administration.
To some extent, the flashpoints of violence have shifted over the course of the last year. Whereas Chihuahua, Sinaloa and Guerrero were the hotspots in the Calderon years, nowadays it’s Guerrero, Mexico state, Chihuahua, Michoacan and Jalisco, in that order, which rank as the most violent entities in the country. In the 11-month period previously mentioned, the five states accounted for 43 percent of all narco-executions.
Located on the outskirts of the capital city, Mexico state was governed by Pena Nieto between 2005 and 2011. Currently, another member of Pena Nieto’s PRI party, Eruviel Avila, is the governor of Mexico’s most populous state.
As previously reported by FNS, Acapulco has replaced Ciudad Juarez as the most violent city, with 835 murder cases chalked up in the latest 11-month period. Based on state prosecutors’ records, the statistic is likely an undercount, since some murders are never reported at all or only get counted when victims’ bodies are recovered at later dates.
In recent weeks, scores of human remains have been unearthed from the latest narco-fosas, or narco-graves, discovered in the states of Jalisco, Michoacan and Guerrero.
On Friday, December 6, the remains of eight members a family from the northern tier of Guerrero, a region submerged in narco-violence, were found dismembered and stuffed in black bags. Two young women and an eight-year-old girl reportedly kidnapped December 5 along with the victims are still missing.
In Acapulco, most of the violence happens away from tourists in the colonias populares, or favela-like districts, that cover the hills of the city on Santa Lucia Bay. On Sunday afternoon, December 8, 30-year-old Fabian Alonso Cruz became the latest victim when three gunmen chased the man down and shot him in front of children playing and families gathered at a park in La Laja neighborhood.
After shooting Alonso Cruz more than 20 times, the killers tossed a plastic bag containing drugs on the victim’s head.
Mexico City, which acquired a reputation as practically a narco-violence free zone during the administrations of both Calderon and former mayor Marcelo Ebrard, is now reported second only to Acapulco in the municipal narco-murder category, with 708 homicides in the latest 11 months considered.
Like the federal administration, the Mexico City government changed hands in late 2012, passing from Ebrard to successor Miguel Mancera, who is supported by the same PRD political party.
In a report on the uptick in narco-violence, Mexico’s Proceso magazine labeled the places with the most violence “fiefdoms of death.”
Sources: El Sur, December 9, 2013. El Diario de El Paso/Proceso/Zeta, December 8, 2013.
Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico