Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mexico admits 52 daily drug war deaths in Enrique Peña Nieto administration - 12,598 through July 31

*Updated Oct. 19*
Guadalajara -
A week after two Mexican press sources claimed the administration of president Enrique Peña Nieto has been grossly under-reporting drug war deaths since his government took office on Dec. 1, 2012, a federal agency has released numbers confirming one of the stories was accurate, while the other was a significant understatement of deaths due to organized crime violence.

The National Public Security System (SNSP) is a federal sub-agency under the direction of Mexico's Department of Government. The secretary of that department is Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, Peña Nieto's senior cabinet officer and chief policy and political adviser. SNSP complies and reports statistics, among other duties.

Osorio Chong frequently speaks for the Institutional Revolutionary Party administration on security matters. For months he has been delivering highly optimistic news at press conferences, claiming that drug war deaths are dropping dramatically. Last week two publications all but accused the PRI government of fraud in its casualty reports. Mexican press: PRI admin is lying about drug war deaths.

They appear to have been right. On Friday SNSP reported that from Dec. 1 through the end of July, 12,598 persons died in a drug war violence, or 52 every day.

The number was about 1,200 less than the 13,775 claimed by the Tijuana based digital publication Zeta, which a week ago calculated that the daily death toll on Peña Nieto's watch was 57, or more than 1,700 a month. Still, Zeta's estimate of the number of daily homicides resulting from organized crime activity was only five off.

SNSP's tally far exceeded a report carried last Tuesday by SinEmbargo, which said that in the eight month period ending July 31, a total of 8,052 had died in drug war violence, an average of almost 34 a day. The digital publication relied on data compiled by Lantia, a Mexican security consulting firm, and by a private research institute, the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE).

In any case, the PRI government is now officially admitting average monthly drug war deaths of 1,560 - a number which easily competes with or in some instances exceeds casualties reported during the administration of former president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa.

On July 16 Osorio Chong told the press drug war deaths are plummeting, and claimed that organized crime homicides in July fell to about 800, a level not seen for at least four years. Based upon SNSP's report, however, the secretary arguably has been under-reporting average monthly casualties by some 25-50% since last spring.

The president himself told the National Public Security Council on Tuesday that narco murders had fallen an average of 14% since he took office on Dec. 1. Peña Nieto claims major progress in drug war. But those claims do not square with the SNSP report released yesterday.

Peña Nieto is following a national security strategy virtually identical to his predecessor's, focused on the same goal of taking down key narco bosses. Mexican army captures leader of Gulf Cartel. The drug war enters its 81st month on Sunday. In December Mexico's attorney general said the country is confronting 60-80 cartels, as well as hundreds of regional and local pandillas. In Guadalajara, 20 local gangs work with organized crime.

The president will deliver his first state of the nation address on Monday. His claims about progress on the security front are likely to be front and center, together with Mexico's dire economic report card and the continuing specter of teacher violence occasioned by pending federal education reforms.

Oct. 19 - Despite much evidence to the contrary, Peña Nieto continues to insist that crime statistics demonstrate Mexico's domestic security has significantly improved during his first year in office.

Oct. 21 - Sinembargo: En 8 años, la guerra contra las drogas de México acumula más muertos que 10 años de guerra en Vietnam

Aug. 29 - U.S. hypocrisy on legalization poses the question, who is committed to combating drugs?
Aug. 27 - Officials announce delay in arrival of federal gendarmerie units
Aug. 25 - Civilian militias soar, with citizen police now patrolling 50 counties in 13 Mexican states
July 25 - "Regrettably, parts of the state have passed into the hands of organized crime"
Feb. 23 - Mexico disputes U.S. press reports on drug war disappearances
Feb. 19 - New York Times figures it out: in drug war, Enrique Peña Nieto = Felipe Calderón Hinojosa

"We're going to implement a new drug war strategy, to reduce violence. That's my promise." - 2012.

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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