The first quarter of 2018 was reportedly the most violent in Mexican history, based on the number of intentional homicides.
The following is taken from our full report on Latin America produced by NYA24. To download the full report, LATIN AMERICA REPORT by NYA24
Incidents of civil unrest have increased in frequency since the previous reporting period, largely in response to policy announcements by US President Donald Trump regarding the border wall with Mexico and the issue of forced disappearances. The latter was highlighted on 26 April in Guadalajara, when approximately 12,000 protesters demonstrated against the deaths of three students who were abducted and subsequently killed and dissolved in acid by members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.
There has been a spike in assassinations during the run-up to Mexico’s regional and national elections scheduled for 1 July 2018. According to the Organization of American States there is an average of one murder of a candidate every four days. Notably, the Citizens’ Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice has reported that the first quarter of 2018 has been the most violent in Mexico’s history, with 7,667 victims of homicide (an average of 85 homicides per day). However, this may be attributed to the new, more comprehensive, methodology for the registration and classification of crime by the central government introduced in January 2018.
High profile criminal incidents in popular tourist areas indicate the escalation of narco-violence throughout the country. In the past, the central government has successfully shielded these areas from violent crime in order to protect the tourist industry. However, on 9 March the US issued a travel warning for Playa del Carmen after explosives were discovered on a ferry in Cozumel on 2 March and an explosion on a tourist ferry on 21 February injured more than 20 travellers.
According to Stop Kidnapping, a Mexican NGO, there were 245 kidnap incidents recorded nationally in February and March 2018. The states of Tamaulipas, Mexico and Veracruz accounted for the highest number of kidnappings. During the reporting period there were multiple victims of kidnap for ransom that were abducted shortly after entering Mexico from the United States. On 17 February two Americans were kidnapped in Nuevo Leon state and rescued nine days later from the northern city of Monterrey. On 9 February three Belizean cyclists were kidnapped and held in Matamoros City, Tamaulipas, shortly after crossing the border. Criminal gangs operate in border areas and some have the intent to kidnap foreign nationals for ransom due to the victims’ perceived affluence compared to the local population.
The number of incidents of extortion – particularly in tourist areas – has increased slightly since the previous reporting period. National statistics show 973 incidents of extortion occurred in February and March 2018. States that reported the highest rate of extortion during this reporting period include Baja California Sur, Nuevo Leon and Jalisco.
Incidents of civil unrest, homicide and assault, particularly targeting political candidates, are likely to increase in frequency in the short term due to upcoming elections. This year local elections in 30 of Mexico’s 32 states are scheduled on the same day as the presidential election, making it the biggest election in Mexican history.
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