There were 2,000 more homicides in 2017 than were originally reported, according to the latest figures compiled by the federal statistics agency, providing new data that United States President Donald Trump was quick to use to push his political agenda.
The National Institute of Statistics (Inegi) reported yesterday there were 31,174 homicides last year, over 2,000 more than the number reported by the Secretariat of the Interior (Segob) in January.
One thing that didn’t change, however, is that last year will go down as the most violent since comparable records were first kept in 1997.
The Associated Press reported that Inegi statistics are considered more thorough because it obtains figures from morgues and public registries whereas Segob only counts homicide investigations rather than the number of victims in each case, meaning that it potentially underestimates the real number of killings.
This morning, Trump cited the numbers as justification for better border security.
Trump wrote in a tweet that “one of the reasons we need Great Border Security is that Mexico’s murder rate in 2017 increased by 27% to 31,174 people killed, a record!”
He added: “The Democrats want Open Borders. I want Maximum Border Security and respect for ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and our great Law Enforcement Professionals!”
The U.S. president also said yesterday that he would have “no problem doing a shutdown” if we don’t get border security “after many, many years of talk within the United States.”
That threat softened today, with White House officials saying that Trump had indicated to staff that he won’t try to shut down the federal government before midterm elections in November in an attempt to win more funding for his border wall.
President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador said today he won’t respond to Trump’s comments on social media.
“We are going to act with prudence . . . We are going to try to look for a friendly relationship. And if the dialogue becomes difficult, the other route will be dialogue and more dialogue, always dialogue. We don’t want to fight.”
The border wall is not on the agenda of his incoming government, he said. “We don’t have that word on our agenda.”
López Obrador has pledged to combat violence and reduce the murder rate by at least 30% during his administration.
To achieve it, Mexico’s next interior secretary, Olga Sánchez Cordero, said López Obrador has given her a “blank check” to explore the possibility of legalizing drugs as well as any other measures that could help restore peace to the country.
Other measures already proposed by the incoming administration are to implement an amnesty law, gradually withdraw the military from public security duties on the nation’s streets and create education and work opportunities for the nation’s disenchanted youth who can be easy targets for organized crime looking for new recruits.
In a letter sent to Trump earlier this month, López Obrador said that said “the most essential purpose” of his government will be to ensure that Mexicans are not forced to migrate because of poverty or violence and proposed a development plan as a means to address the migration problem.
In a return letter, Trump wrote that “we are prepared to further address the economic development and security issues that drive migration from Central America” and said that a strong bilateral relationship “will lead to a much stronger and more prosperous Mexico.”
But playing to his domestic electoral base by disparaging Mexico — especially on Twitter — will likely only serve to further complicate an already strained bilateral relationship, especially considering that López Obrador has pledged that he will demand that Mexico be treated with respect and that “Mexico and its people will not be the piñata of any foreign government.”