The Mexican government may not like it, and has formally contested the findings, but according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), we now rank as the second-most deadly nation on Earth, right behind Syria.
According to a report released last month by the London-based research institute (which was rated as the 13th-best brain trust in the world by the Global Go To Think Tank Index in 2016), there were nearly 23,000 intentional homicides in Mexico last year.
And, again, according to the IISS, almost all of that violence was linked to Mexico’s drug cartels.
Both the Interior and Foreign Relations Secretariats (SRE) have pointed out — rightly — that the report was based on “unclear methodologies and makes use of [Mexican] legal terms in an inadequate manner,” and that its “conclusions lack support in regard to the situation in Mexico.”
It also said that there is no way to verify the IISS’ statistics, since the National Institute of Geography and Statistics (INEGI) has yet to release its report on intentional deaths for 2016.
But whatever the numbers or Mexico’s standing in the most-deadly nations ranks, the fact is that the murders of 20,000-plus men, women and children is unacceptable.
And while the government may argue that only about half of those slayings were related to the illicit drug trade, the intentional deaths of even 10,000-something Mexicans due to cartel violence is still alarming.
Rather than dispute the findings of the IISS, the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto needs to focus on looking for ways to stem the violence.
Regardless of the numbers, the killings have to stop.
And despite the best laid plans of the administration, according to the government’s own statistics, the first two months of 2017 were the most violent since the country first started releasing statistics in 1997.
In January alone, the murder rate in Mexico was 20 per 100,000 people.
Homicide — whether it be drug-related or not — is on the rise in Mexico.
And a forceful and calculated hand of government can play a role in helping to stem the tide of murder.
Instead of arguing over numbers and methodology, the Mexican government needs to take serious action to protect its citizens from the indiscriminate and blatant use of murder as a means of intimidation and a gory show of impunity.
Thérèse Margolis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.