Violent crimes rise in Mexico; 94.8% go unpunished

MEXICO CITY – On September 2, the bodies of three dismembered and burned people were found in bags in Abasolo, Guanajuato state. Three days later, in the same state, a trans woman was murdered and a man’s body, burned and tortured, was found hanging from a tree in Coacalco state. More than 300 kidnapped migrants were rescued in Aguascalientes on September 7, an entire family was killed in Chihuahua on September 19, and an explosive device in Guanajuato caused the deaths of two men.

The list of bloody events seems endless, but it is only a selection of the 438 acts of extreme violence recorded by the Mexican non-governmental organization Causa en Común in September, the deadliest month of the year.

Researchers estimate that the increase in extreme violence injured or killed 6,314 people in the first seven months of 2021.

The group said in their new report about Atrocities recorded in the media that there have been at least 800 cases of torture that year, in addition to 640 cases of dismemberment, mutilation and destruction of corpses, the discovery of 502 secret graves, 418 massacres and 341 murders of women committed with extreme cruelty.

“It seems very serious to us because it is not only terrible that people are murdered in Mexico, but also how they are murdered,” said Luis Sánchez Díaz, researcher at Causa en Común, who campaigns for rights and freedoms. “This type of news is not just another number, and it is very unfortunate that we are beginning to normalize this type of violence.”

Each month, the group counts the “atrocities” recorded in the media, defined as events in which “willful physical violence is used to cause death, cuts or extreme abuse”.

The organization warned against basing its figures on reports from journalists only, so “there will be an indefinite number of atrocities that have not been recorded”.

Sánchez Díaz said: “We see that the country is being militarized with the actions of the National Guard. [yet] the violence increases. It is absurd to believe that the country will become more peaceful when an average of 97 people are murdered every day. ”

National Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval recently said the army had deployed 28,395 soldiers – including 6,244 on the southern border and 7,419 on the northern border with the United States

“Keeping the military on the streets and not fighting corruption is everything,” Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a criminal organization specialist at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, told Noticias Telemundo. She was not involved in the Causa en Comun investigation.

While violence in the country has skyrocketed as the judicial system deteriorates and suffers “many restrictions”, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government has inherited the effects of former President Felipe Calderón’s drug war, Correa-Cabrera said.

“Atrocities like extortion, kidnapping, torture and murder happen across the country, but nothing happens. It is nothing new, however, as this has been seen in previous governments. It is enough to look at the numbers of the past to understand that this is an enormous challenge, ”she said.

Migration and massacre

The report found that the massacres (killings of three or more people) peaked in July when 67 were recorded and that the high monthly numbers persist. The researchers warned that there was a link between the events and the presence of migrants in Mexico.

“It seems important to us to point out that this increase in the number of victims is due to the fact that violence is escalating not only against the population of the country, but also against migrants,” said Sánchez Díaz of the spread of kidnappings and violent incidents against people, who emigrate north to the USA while passing through Mexico

The National Institute of Migration rescued 19,162 migrants who fell victim to organized crime, including many Central Americans. Between August 21 and September 20 alone, the army rescued 63,614 migrants.

“We live in fear because it is a very corrupt area. Everyone tells you that the cartels make the rules, the drug is the law, ”said Yorje Pérez Moreno, a Venezuelan migrant who was blackmailed during his stay in Mexico this year.

Human Rights First, a Washington-based organization, has registered 6,356 violent attacks against migrants deported to Mexico since January – including rape, kidnapping, extortion, human trafficking and other attacks.

An increase in femicides

The worst month yet was May, when 62 cases involved the violent murder of women. Sánchez Díaz said it was a worrying trend that was getting worse every month.

“It is often said that many of these deaths are related to organized crime, but we see that most cases of violence against women have to do with their partners or someone close to them,” said Sánchez Díaz.

The highest number of femicides during López Obrador’s tenure was recorded in August, when 107 were registered, according to the Ministry of Security and Citizen Protection. It’s also the highest number since 2015.

The number of femicides increased by 8 percent from January to August compared to the same period last year.

“There is a growing trend in the murder of women, but it is not reflected well because very few are classified as femicides in Mexico,” said Patricia Olamendi, a feminist activist and human rights expert. “The majority classify it as intentional or culpable homicide. But if we add up these three situations, we have an average of 20 feminicides a day. “

An ‘almost total’ impunity

In one Report released last week, Results 2020 (“Hallazgos” means “findings”), the think tank México Evalúa found that 94.8 percent of the cases reported in Mexico go unpunished.

“It is a criminal justice system that does not respond to citizens’ demands because it is in need. There is no political leadership to address the shortcomings and provide the necessary resources, ”said Christel Rosales, a researcher for the organization’s justice program.

The report found that 93.3 percent of cases go unreported to authorities and, of the small percentage that is, 95 percent go unpunished. The attorney general opened 38,855 investigations last year, 60 percent fewer than in 2019.

Although the investigation takes into account the coronavirus pandemic, experts also have an impact on the population’s distrust of the judiciary and its restrictions.

It’s a bleak scenario because only three tenths of 1 percent of cases are resolved. “It’s almost total impunity,” said Rosales.

More women incarcerated and with longer sentences

The México Evalúa report found that women experience inequality in prison because their rights are less respected.

When they testify, they are pressured to give different versions of events than men are. In addition, fewer rights are granted and one in two women is deprived of their liberty while waiting to be convicted.

“The judiciary treats women differently, in a negative sense. … For example, they are sentenced to longer terms than men, especially those over 21 years, because two-thirds are women, “said Rosales.

The problem is structural. Men dominate the judicial system, which increases the gap and inequalities.

“There is still a sexual division of labor. Women are placed in lower positions that are more administrative or secretarial, while positions in decision-making, research and strategic planning are held by men, “said Rosales.

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