MEXICO CITY (NNN-Agencies) – Murders in Mexico rose by 33 percent in 2018, breaking the record for a second year running, as violence fuelled by a war on the country’s powerful drug cartels plagues the country.
More than 200,000 people have been murdered in Mexico since the government controversially deployed the army to fight drug trafficking in 2006. The previous record was 28,866 homicides in 2017.
The central state of Guanajuato registered the highest number of murder probes opened in 2018, at 3,290 cases,.
The data showed 861 cases of murders of women in 2018 compared with 735 in 2017.
The new record shows the grim challenge facing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, an anti-establishment leftist who took office in December with a promise to curb the gruesome violence.
His strategy is built on creating a national guard that will officially bring civilian police duties under military control.
Critics say that will only prolong the militarisation of the crackdown on drug cartels and exacerbate human rights abuses.
In a concession to critics, Mr Obrador agreed to put the new force under civilian command, but opponents say that will do little to resolve the underlying problems.
Creating the national guard will require a constitutional amendment.
The legislation cleared the lower house last week with the required two-thirds majority, in a major victory for Mr Obrador – though he complained the bill as passed did not give the military enough powers during the transition to the new force.
The plan still has to pass the Senate, also with a two-thirds majority, and half of Mexico’s 32 state legislatures – most controlled by Mr Obrador’s party, Morena.