Amid Drug War, Mexico Homicide Rate Up For Fourth Straight Year

A study has found that Mexico’s homicide rate rose for the fourth year in a row in 2011, this time by 5.6% compared with the previous year — a fact that will come as little surprise to Mexicans who continue to be bombarded each morning with the latest stomach-turning details of the country’s drug war.

What is less clear, however, is what the new numbers say about outgoing President Felipe Calderon’s controversial and nearly 6-year-old  decision to deploy the military to battle the country’s entrenched drug-trafficking gangs.

Is this the short-term pain that Mexico must endure in order to achieve a long-term peace? Or are the increased slayings the inevitable — and ineluctable — result of a strategy that Calderon’s successor, Enrique Peña Nieto, has essentially promised to continue, with a few alterations?

The new data, released this week by Mexico’s statistics and geography institute, show that 27,199 people were killed in Mexico last year — or 24 homicides per 100,000 people. The rate in 2007 was 8 per 100,000. Last year it was 23 per 100,000.

The data include all homicides in Mexico, not just the drug-related ones, but they are likely to inspire the same head-scratching and political jockeying that narco-related statistics do, and which have become a kind of morbid parlor game here.

The ramifications, of course, extend far beyond Mexico: The U.S. government estimates that Mexican drug cartels maintain a commercial presence in at least 230 American cities. In 2009, the Justice Department called them the "greatest organized crime threat to the United States."

– Read the entire article at Los Angeles Times.