Last updateFri, 01 May 2015 7pm

Mexico’s murder rate is dropping, new US study finds

A significant drop in the murder rate in Mexico last year is not only good news for the nation’s beleaguered president but a positive trend as Mexicans cling to the hope that the cycle of violence that has characterized so much of the last decade will eventually end.

A new report by the University of San Diego’s Justice in Mexico Project indicates a 13.8-percent reduction in the number of homicides nationwide in 2014.

While the 15,649 murders committed in Mexico last year is still high, it represents a consequential drop compared to its 2011 high of 21,480 murders.

The biggest decline was along the U.S. border where five states reported a combined decrease of 17.7 percent.

The authors of the report, entitled “Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2014,” also found that between one-third and half of all homicides in Mexico in 2014 were attributed to organized crime groups.  

Less positively, the state of Jalisco was singled out as a “new trouble spot” in Mexico’s battle against organized crime, while the report highlighted dramatic reductions of violence in key cities, such as Acapulco, Chihuahua and Ciudad Juarez.

The report notes, however, that crime is still a serious problem in Mexico, with  kidnappings and extortion at high levels.  In the past eight years more than 138,000 people have been murdered in Mexico, the report confirmed.

Since taking office, President Enrique Peña Nieto has aggressively pursued the nation’s cartel leaders, while trying to modernize the criminal justice system and create more efficient and less corrupt police forces.  Unfortunately, much of his good work was undone by his administration’s sluggish response to the disappearance of 43 students in the state of Guerrero, an incident that has contributed to a sharp decline in his popularity.