As Violence Rate Declines across Latin America, Mexico’s Continues to Rise

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According to a new report released by the Small Arms Survey, an organization based out of Geneva with a specialization in tracking violent deaths around the world, Mexico is the only nation in Latin America that’s regressed in its pursuit of peacefulness, growing from 10.7 murders per 100,000 inhabitants in 2004 to more than triple that – 33.5 deaths per 100,000 people – in 2020.

Alongside the other 192 members of the United Nations, Mexico pledged to ​​”promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, responsible and inclusive institutions at all levels” as part of the organization’s global sustainable development goals.

However, despite this commitment toward peace, violence in Mexico has only increased over the past two decades – particularly under the presidency of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), whose administration is on track to become the most violent in Mexico’s recent history.

While other Latin American countries like Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala and Brazil previously topped the list of most violent countries in the region with Mexico, the Small Arms Survey has shown significant progress toward peace in all of them, dropping from 66.2 to 28.8, 77.5 to 24.8, 42.2 to 17.2, and 31.5 to 23.7 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, respectively, across the past two decades. Even Jamaica, amid its ongoing security crisis, dropped from 64.7 to 53.5 violent deaths per 100,000 people throughout the last 20 years.

Meanwhile, Mexico’s problem with violence tripled during this same time period, thrusting Mexico into the international spotlight for its demonstrated problem with promoting peace. While the worldwide death rate for violent deaths and homicides committed by firearms declined by 22 percent and 30 percent from 2016 and 2020, Mexico only increased; During these four years alone, Mexico grew from 23.9 to 33.5 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. 

According to the Higher Institute of International and Development Studies, 43,250 people lost their lives through violence in Mexico during 2020 – more than 8 percent of the year’s total global violent deaths. As AMLO’s controversial “hugs, not bullets” policy forges ahead, it remains to be seen if Mexico’s increasing rate of violence will continue throughout the remainder of his administration in turn.


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