The number of homicides in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, in the first quarter of 2019 was six times higher than the same period last year, statistics show.
There were 55 homicides in Solidaridad, the municipality where the resort city is located, between January and March compared to nine in the first three months of last year.
The figure accounts for one-third of all murders in the state in the first quarter of this year and is equivalent to one-half of the total number of homicides in Solidaridad last year.
Only Benito Juárez, the municipality where Cancún is located, recorded a higher number of homicides between January and March, with 96.
The high murder rate in Playa del Carmen continues a trend that began in July last year.
There were 28 intentional homicides between January and June 2018 but 82 in the six-month period to December, an increase of almost 200%. The surging murder rate came a year after Cancún saw a similarly steep rise in homicides.
In the first week of this year, seven people were killed in a bar shooting in Playa del Carmen, after which Mayor Laura Beristain said that municipal authorities would work “hand-in-hand with the state government in a head-on fight against crime” and that “we cannot and must not allow the image of Solidaridad as a tourist destination to continue to be stained.”
The following month, she appealed to President López Obrador to call on the media in Quintana Roo to stop “bashing” Playa del Carmen by publishing front page stories about violence.
During the presentation of the government’s national tourism strategy in Chetumal, Beristain claimed that newspapers were publishing sensationalist headlines such as “Solidaridad, 100 days of blood” and “Solidaridad, violence and crime grow” to retaliate against a loss of government advertising revenue.
“It’s not true, that [kind of violence] is not happening in Playa del Carmen, Solidaridad . . .” she said.
However, the most recent homicide statistics paint a different picture.
According to the president of the Citizens’ Observatory of Quintana Roo, a civil society organization, the growing levels of violence in Solidaridad are the result of a turf war between criminal groups.
“The municipal seat, Playa del Carmen, is one of the main markets [in the state] for drug dealing, and it’s an important plaza that several organized crime groups are competing for,” Gerardo Bonilla said.
“The problem is that Quintana Roo doesn’t have the institutional strength to deal with a phenomenon of this nature,” he added.
Bonilla charged that Governor Carlos Joaquín, who presented a new anti-crime strategy in February, has lost control of the security situation and expressed skepticism that the deployment of the National Guard will make a difference.
He also stressed that violence is a statewide problem, pointing out that Quintana Roo was considered the ninth most peaceful state in Mexico in 2017 but has now dropped to 29th.
“. . . To have lost 20 places in a couple of years and to now be one of the three most insecure states is not a minor matter,” he said.
Source: El Financiero (sp)