Violence worsened in March despite the coronavirus pandemic and authorities’ exhortation to citizens to stay at home.
There were 2,585 homicides last month, according to daily figures published by the federal government, the highest number for any month since President López Obrador took office in December 2018. The figure equates to just over 83 murders per day or one every 17 minutes.
The total number of homicides in March is 1.6% higher than the 2,543 recorded last June, which was the most violent month of the López Obrador administration, and 7% higher than March 2019.
With 325 homicides – 12.6% of the total in March – Guanajuato was the most violent state in the country. Much of the violence in the state is attributed to a turf war between the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.
México state, Jalisco, Chihuahua and Baja California were the next most violent states with 282, 198, 192 and 163 homicides, respectively. The five states accounted for 45% of all homicides across the country.
In contrast, Yucatán recorded just one homicide last month, Aguascalientes and Baja California Sur saw two each, Nayarit reported four and Campeche had just six murders. Mexico City recorded 130.
In per capita terms, Guanajuato was also the most violent state with 5.4 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Chihuahua, Colima, Baja California and Zacatecas were next, with per-capita rates between 4.2 and 4.9.
The March statistics disprove Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo’s claim on March 23 that violence had reached an “inflection point” and that homicide numbers would start to go down.
The federal government’s security strategy, which favors addressing the root causes of violence such as poverty and lack of opportunity, came under increased scrutiny late last year after a spate of cartel killings including those of nine members of a Mexican-American Mormon family in Sonora last November.
Speaking at his morning press conference on Friday, President López Obrador said that violence among criminal groups had continued in late March despite the growing coronavirus outbreak in the country.
“It seemed in late March, when the coronavirus had become more widespread, that we would have a considerable reduction in violence. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way,” he said.
López Obrador asserted that there hasn’t been an increase in domestic violence as people spend more time in their homes.
“That’s not happening, the violence that we are suffering at this time is … [due to] the confrontation between crime gangs that continue to fight for [drug trafficking] plazas,” he said.