The coronavirus pandemic and the deployment of almost 100,000 National Guard troops did little to halt violence in 2020: homicides declined for the first time in years, but only by 0.4%.
The federal government reported Wednesday that there were 34,515 homicides last year, a reduction of 133 compared to 2019, which was the most violent year on record. It also reported that there were 969 femicide victims – women and girls killed on account of their gender – in 2020, an increase of 0.3% compared to 2019. The worst state for that crime was México state followed by Veracruz, Jalisco, Mexico City and Nuevo León.
The total number of homicide and femicide victims last year was 35,484, a reduction of just under 0.4% compared to 2019. The figure equates to 97 murder victims per day, including 10 women and three children or adolescents. Almost seven in 10 victims were shot, federal data shows.
Although the reduction in the homicide rate was minimal, President López Obrador asserted that the government is making progress in improving security.
“My objective, honest assessment is that we’ve made progress. We still have a lot of things to do but there has been very significant progress,” he said.
But the fact remains that violence remained at extremely high levels in 2020 even as people spent more time at home as a result of the pandemic and associated restrictions and the National Guard, which was created by the government in 2019, fanned out across the country in greater numbers. The number of homicide victims last year was almost double the number in 2015 when 17,886 people were murdered.
Murders increased in 11 states in 2020, government data shows, and Guanajuato remained the most violent in terms of the number of victims.
There were 4,510 homicide and femicide victims in the Bajío region state, a figure that accounts for almost 13% of the total number of people murdered in Mexico last year.
Compared to 2019, the number of victims in Guanajuato, which is plagued by cartel violence, rose by almost 1,000 or 25%. The leader of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel, a major fuel theft, drug trafficking and extortion gang, was arrested last August but his capture didn’t result in a sustained reduction in violence. Authorities estimate that 80% of murders in Guanajuato, where the Jalisco New Generation Cartel also has a strong presence, are linked to organized crime.
After Guanajuato, the most violent states in terms of the number of murder victims were, in order, Baja California, México state, Chihuahua, Jalisco and Michoacán.
In percentage terms, Zacatecas and Yucatán recorded the biggest increases in violence in 2020. Murders in the former state increased 67% from 645 in 2019 to 1,075 last year.
The number of homicide and femicide victims increased by the same percentage in Yucatán but violence remained low. There were 60 murder victims in 2020, an increase of 24 compared to 2019.
San Luis Potosí, where the number of murder victims rose 45.4% to 759 last year, recorded the third highest increase among the 32 states.
The other states that recorded an increase in violence last year were Guanajuato, Michoacán, Baja California, Campeche, Chihuahua, Durango, Sonora and Querétaro.
In per capita terms, Baja California, Chihuahua, Colima and Guanajuato were the most violent states. Those four, all of which are plagued by cartel violence, recorded more than 70 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.
Across Mexico there were 27 homicides per 100,000 residents. By comparison, there were about five murders per 100,000 residents in the United States in 2018, the Associated Press reported.
In addition to homicides, kidnappings and vehicle theft were among the crimes that declined. The number of kidnappings fell 38.5% compared to 2019 while vehicle theft was down 23.9%.