Mexico: Sharp fall in drug violence inspires new optimism
Along much of the 1,970-mile border between Mexico and the US, levels of violence that peaked in 2011 have fallen, and a national survey found optimism for Mexico's security situation is on the rise.
Gradually but notably, the mood of Mexicans has brightened about their personal security and the broader war on crime, a shift in this country’s state of mind that coincides with a sharp reduction in bloodshed in once violent regions.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Veracruz, Mexico: Life under military protection
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
On 14 days last month, no one was murdered at all.
The better mood provides 11th-hour solace to President Felipe Calderon, whose legacy after he leaves office Dec. 1 likely will be tainted by the bloodshed that began to surge at the beginning of his term when he deployed some 50,000 soldiers and federal police to take on well-equipped narcotics cartels.
“Mexico is emerging triumphant against these adversities,” President Calderon said this week as the clock wound down on his six-year term.
“Mexico saw already in 2011, the highest point, an inflection point (on violence), and probably, for example, the homicide rate in 2012 will be lower not only than that in 2011 but even probably lower than in 2010,” Calderon told Jewish leaders on Monday at Los Pinos, the presidential palace.
Along much of the 1,970-mile border between Mexico and the United States, levels of violence that peaked in 2011 have fallen steadily, even dramatically. The area from Ciudad Juarez west to Tijuana has seen homicides plummet, allowing cities to spring back to life.
Ciudad Juarez, once dubbed “Murder City,” tallied fewer homicides in October than Chicago, which chalked up 36 murders.
Mexico once kept an official count of cartel-related homicides.
In 2010, by official reckoning, the nation tallied 15,273 gang-related homicides. But in September 2011, when the count for the first nine months of the year stood at 12,903, the government abruptly said it no longer would release the figures.
Calderon told the Wall Street Journal in June that families of the victims complained that their loved ones were being portrayed as gangsters without a judicial conviction.
"We had complaints from human rights groups and analysts that we were prejudging cases and victims," Calderon told the Journal. "I have given orders to my government that we play by the book on this. Only after a judge issues a verdict can we include this in an official number.”