Commentary Magazine on Juarez; homicides increase in central Chihuahua while decreasing in the north

Here is another comment on the Washington Post article,  this one from conservative magazine, Commentary.

I don’t agree with the “failed state” conclusion of this article either, but it at least points out the contradictions in the Post article that were stated by sources and then essentially ignored… I’m especially struck by this (it is a quote from the WaPo article cited by Commentary:
The criminal organizations that brought Juarez to the brink have not disappeared. “What we have seen,” said Peniche, the prosecutor, “is these groups have moved to other parts of the state.”

Click here for an article from El Diario today that addresses this very point: while murder and other serious crime is down in Juarez and the rest of the “northern zone” of Chihuahua, it is on the rise in other parts of the state.

LEGITIMATE HOMICIDE…

As I was driving home today and listening to the news about Todd Akin and “legitimate rape“…

I thought, well, what we have been seeing in Mexico for (at least) the last 6 years is a government that says there is homicide and then, there is “legitimate homicide.” And government mouth-pieces ranging from mayors and police chiefs of Juarez, to governors of Chihuahua and on up to Secretaries of Gobernacion, Defense, and Public Security and on up to President Calderon himself have consistently said that “90 percent of the dead are criminals being killed by other criminals.” [legitimate homicide...] The recent Washington Post article quotes numerous government spokespersons in Juarez reinforcing this idea that all of the killing happened between criminals — “legitimate homicides”– and government forces are now bringing calm to the city… All this at the very moment when the Mexican government is being forced to admit that it cannot legitimately classify homicides at all since it lacks the capability to investigate more than one or two percent of the crimes and now the national statistical agency says that despite all the claims of “winning the drug war,” there were more homicides (by far) in 2011 than in any other year since Calderon took office (or any year prior to that since the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920)… Here is the REFORMA article from today on the new INEGI numbers.  I’ll post something more comparative tomorrow…a GOOGLE translation of the REFORMA piece is below…and a little chart I am working on comparing the INEGI releases from 2011 and today. According to my first look at this new data, with estimates of what will happen for the remaining months of Calderon’s term, we are looking 116,869 homicides during the sexenio. And these are all connected to real government data and real body counts. NOT including estimates of disappeared people or bodies yet to be uncovered from clandestine graves… [feel free to check my arithmetic]  Molly Molloy
GOOGLE TRANSLATION: 
27,199 murders recorded in 2011
Chihuahua, according to INEGI, is the state with the highest number of violent deaths with an average of 131 murders per 100,000 inhabitants
By REFORM / Writing
Mexico City (August 20, 2012). – In 2011 there were 27,199 intentional homicides in Mexico, the highest in the six-year period, according to data released by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI). The figures are derived from the information provided by the administrative records of the Registry Offices 723 4000
Civil Registry and 96 thousand prosecutor agencies that provide monthly data on deaths accidental and violent, precise INEGI in a statement. The Institute notes that the company with the highest number of deaths was Chihuahua, which occurred in
average of 131 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, and the lowest rate was Yucatan, with three cases. “To facilitate comparison of data from homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, was an exercise by the INEGI, for population estimates for each of the years of the series to be present, consistent with the results of the Census of Population and Housing 2010, “says the Institute. “So these calculations will not match other data generated from official projections current population are based on the Second Population and Housing 2005 and conciliation
population of 2005. ” According to the annual breakdown presented by the Institute, in 2006 there were 10,452 deaths, while in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 occurred 8,867, 14 006, 19,803 and 25,757, respectively. However, last year, according to the cut last July, have not finished it processes generation of statistics, the figure reached 27,199 deaths.
Copyright © Grupo Reforma Information Service
And here is a comment on the earlier post by my colleague at Cal State Northridge on the news media complicity in this continuing falsifying of the record:
_______________________
Amazing (but not surprising) to think this is not a big story in the U.S. Plus, a great example of how government agencies shape and manipulate reality. The Mexican government definition of drug-related crime is as bogus as the definition of gang-related crime in the U.S. The purpose, of course, is different, but the effect has been catastrophic for poor people in both instances.
The result of this, as pointed out by Molly, is that news media organizations have been reporting Mexico’s government figures without challenging the government, which means a reduction of the size of the impact on Mexican society. Instead of 50 or 60,000 drug-related killings, we should be talking about 100,000+. Think of Vietnam: 50,000 U.S. soldiers killed (and the impact on American society). Now, imagine double that size with a population half the size of the U.S. during Vietnam. Nobody in Mexico has remained untouched by this. And this is not the end yet… From Jose Luis Benavides
LINKS TO SOURCES FOR NUMBERS ARE BELOW:
  INEGI total homicides reported Aug 2012* INEGI total homicides reported July 2011+ SNSP
2005 9,921 9,921  
2006 10,452 10,452  
2007 8,867 8,867  
2008 14,006 14,006  
2009 19,803 19,803  
2010 25,757 24,374  
2011 27,199  
2012 (Jan-June estimate from SNSP)# 10,617    
July-Dec est. @ 1770 per month 10,620    
TOTAL 2007-2012 Calderon’s term 116,869   104,977 (estimate SNSP as per Reforma, Aug 15 2012 + July-Dec 2012 est.)&

Mexican government admits it doesn’t know how many homicides are related to drug war…

Yesterday, REFORMA reported that a spokesman for the federal government in Mexico stated that this administration will not release a new number of “homicides related to organized crime” before the end of Calderon’s sexenio.  The main focus of the article is that this will not be done because the government cannot accurately determine the causes of the homicides. This is exactly what I have been saying consistently on this list and elsewhere for several years.

 The government will release the complete tally of homicidios dolosos or intentional homicides as tallied by SNSP.  The numbers I’ve report most often use INEGI data for the earlier years of the sexenio and SNSP for 2011 forward.  I think that these numbers are somewhat higher because INEGI data does not separate the homicidios dolosos from other homicides that are what would be classified as negligent or accidental in the US… The differences are not huge. The REFORMA article gives a total of 94,357 through June 2012; INSIGHT CRIME says the SNSP figure for Jan-June 2012 is 10,617. If the average homicides per month (1,770) is extrapolated through the end of November 2012 (when Calderon’s term ends) the total will be 19,464. Added to the previous SNSP number, we would have a total of about 103,204.  I think the eventual number will be higher than that and considering the government’s political motives, I’m comfortable with my current estimate of 110,000. As some of the national figures (including Javier Sicilia) quoted in the article say, these numbers do not include the numbers of missing and disappeared people, nor the bodies that are still being found buried in clandestine graves in many places in the country.
The content of the government spokesman’s statement is almost exactly what I have been saying for years–that the criteria used to determine what is or is not an “organized crime related homicide” is bogus:
__________
He further explained: “They set the criteria and said, ‘well, let’s see…if they used weapons of heavy caliber, if they moved the body, if the body is bound, if there are signs of torture…if two or more of these (characteristics) are present then the homicide could be attributed to organized crime ‘. They had some methodological support for what was published but it was only an approximation, as if they are just saying, ‘yes, this could be organized crime,’ ” he said.

__________

I will look around for more statistics to see if a better estimate is possible. It is interesting that this admission by the government is first published by REFORMA. REFORMA’s oft-cited “Ejecumetro” has for years used the same or similar criteria to determine which killings are related to organized crime and these much lower numbers have been frequently reported in the Mexican national media. The REFORMA data are also used by the Transborder Institute (TBI) in their monthly publications on the drug war. It will be interesting to see how this policy change–admission–backtracking (what else could we call it?) by the Calderon administration will be treated in the international media–if it is noticed at all.
Borderland Beat has a better translation of the Reforma article. Also take a look at the comments.
Here is one of them:
Does anyone know why all that is going in Mexico hardly makes it on the evening news here in the US?
It’s like the domestic dispute next door that everyone is aware of but we all want to pretend its not happening. It really is strange.
More Mexican government officials report that the new database for compiling homicide and missing persons data nationally is extremely behind and indefinitely delayed. A Google translation is below:
GOOGLE TRANSLATION

New national database for homicides delayed

Prado Henia

Agency Reform | 08.17.2012 | 22:24

Federal District-The new database that will store the numbers of intentional homicide and missing persons, which was negotiated by state attorneys and the Attorney General, has not been able to start walking.

The reasons for the delay of this new registration agreement over a year ago is that there is partial information, wrong or delay in delivering it.

An early start date for this database, set for May 12 was postponed and finally determined that as of June 15 would begin to flow data to concentrate on this record.

“The National Conference reaffirms its commitment to fulfill the mandate of the CNSP to establish databases nationally, for registration of intentional homicide and missing persons.

“For this, the law enforcement agencies are committed to providing complete records of these databases later than June 15 this year, expand, update and validate the respective information permanently,” said May 24 the entitled the PGR, Marisela Morales.

Federal District connection, Jaime Lopez-Aranda, head of the National Information Center of the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP), said that while the collection of information is substantial homicide, shall be at least one other months to complete the count. “The database of voluntary manslaughter is compiling the PGR will allow us to have more accurate data of victimology, for example, and not only the preliminary investigation, it secretes the victim’s age, sex of victim, location.

“We are really behind. Promised for June 15, I hope it comes out in September and October, because many entities provided information as we had to be delivered, then you should return it, “he said.

This new database and updated monthly to the SESNSP on its website will be the only references that citizens have about the violent murders occurred in the country.

Neither breaks down the number of executed by organized crime. (Agency Reform)

*************************************************************************************************************

Molly Molloy

Surge in violence in Mexico’s drug war? Figures are inconclusive; 30 deaths in 2 days–Proceso

Several articles below on the recent upsurge in violence in Mexico. The LA Times reports on discrepancies in the numbers of homicides reported and not reported in recent weeks/months. A Reforma article from August 13 explicitly says that the government is “hiding the numbers.”  This is one of the first articles I have seen in either the Mexican or US or international press that questions the government’s criteria for separating so-called “drug-related” or “organized crime related” homicides from the general tally of killings. 

From the REFORMA piece ( I will try to post a complete translation later…):

“The lack of homicide investigations on the part of the state and federal authorities, the absence of coordination to determine which are linked to organized crime and which are pot, as well as a weak (feeble, flimsy) methodology, all are factors that obscure knowledge of the real number of homicides, say public security experts.”

“La falta de investigacion de los homicidios por parte de autoridades estatales y federales, la ausencia de coordinacion para determinar cuales estan vinculados al crimen organizado y cuales no, ademas de una metodologia endeble, son factores que impiden conocer la cifra real de ejecutados, opinan especialistas en seguridad publica. “

This is exactly the same point I have made many times on the Frontera List and most recently in this Phoenix New Times article.

Finally it is clearly stated in a major Mexican newspaper and it is beginning to be hinted at in the US press. Also, the LA Times piece is the only reference I have seen in the US press to the release of homicide data from state attorneys general reported last week in El Diario that revealed an actual homicide count of more than 83,000–MINUS any figures at all from 4 states and only counting through December 2011…. For that study, see here.

I have read and heard from Mexicans living in exile in the US much speculation that there will be an increase in violence as Calderon’s term comes to an end. The Proceso article makes this explicit. The person who sent the article to me points out the echo of what happened in Juarez from 2008-2011–that is–when the Mexican army, federal police and other security forces are deployed, the violence increases dramatically. I think that we are seeing evidence of this now in reports from Nuevo Leon, Durango, Veracruz and Mexico City. molly molloy

Mexico’s drug deaths blamed on departing president’s security strategy

Sources disagree on Juárez homicide figures–EPTimes

Here’s an article I missed in the El Paso Times (and yes, I was a source for some of the stuff in the article…) It is interesting that just today, El Diario has a story quoting a spokesman for the FGE (the Chihuahua State Attorney General) saying that organized crime related homicides were 60% of the total July homicides in the city…  See this link.

I would clarify this one statement in the article:

“But since only a small percentage of crimes in Mexico are investigated and resolved, Molloy said, it’s not possible to conclusively say which killings are related to organized crime.” 
It is not me saying that only a small percentage of crimes in Mexico are investigated or solved, but rather, the Mexican government itself that says this… Here is one link from 2010…Many more can be found hereNo investigan 95% de muertes en “guerra”
Also, the numbers that I have regularly posted here on the frontera list are numbers from various Mexican official sources…things that are available in the press or in open access web sources. It is very interesting to see the different numbers provided by individual spokesman for Mexican agencies when reporters ask for information directly…  
 

At least 83,541 homicides in Mexico during Calderon’s term–El Diario

This article by Luz del Carmen Sosa appeared yesterday in EL DIARIO…I have not found a link to the original yet, but this one from puronarco.com seems to be complete. There is also a translation from Borderland Beat. If anyone has the full original version of the article from El Diario, please post or send me the link.
 
Highlights: government data from the Public Ministries of 28 states on homicides (specifically homicidios dolosos or intentional homicides) were provided through the Mexican transparency law (similar to the US Freedom of Information Act). The data reveal that from Dec 1 2006 when Calderon took office up through December 2011, there have been at least 83,541 homicides. The four states that DID NOT report homicides are: Coahuila, Durango, Morelos and Tlaxcala. I know from following media reports and in looking at the previous releases from different government agencies that Coahuila and Durango have been very violent during the years of Calderon’s administration. Some of the most violent mass killings have been reported from the Lagunera area that includes parts of both Coahuila and Durango state. The investigation is continuing with the effort to obtain data from these states as well.  The officials are legally obligated to provide the information. 
 
At least 8.4 percent of the victims nationally are women, though state authorities cannot determine the sex of 184 of the bodies counted. Most of the homicide victims are between the ages of 21 and 30. 
 
The states with the most homicides are Chihuahua (16,592) and Estado de México (8,602). Though not in the article, it should be noted that the Estado de Mexico (essentially includes all the population in the central area around the capital city minus the population of the Distrito Federal) and it is the largest in population of all the states of Mexico with more than 15 million inhabitants. [http://cuentame.inegi.org.mx/monografias/informacion/mex/poblacion/default.aspx?tema=me&e=15] Chihuahua with twice as many homicide victims has a population of 3.4 million [http://cuentame.inegi.org.mx/monografias/informacion/chih/default.aspx?tema=me&e=08]
 
The article reports 1,304 of the 16,592 homicide victims in Chihuahua state were women–the highest number of “feminicidios” in the country.  This statement is relatively meaningless in terms of the statistics because Chihuahua also had by far the highest number of homicides overall. The percentage of female victims in Chihuahua is actually about 7.8 percent, slightly lower than the overall percentage of female victims in all of the states reporting (8.4 percent). So in relation to the TOTAL victims, there were relatively fewer female homicide victims in the state of Chihuahua compared to those in the other states. In other words, yes, there are more murders of women in Chihuahua than in any other state. But that is because there are so many more murders total in Chihuahua… And, the percentage of female victims is actually slightly LOWER than in other states.
 
The article does not give the exact figure reported for Ciudad Juarez, but says that the city had the highest number of homicides in the state, followed by the capital, Chihuahua City. The border city of Juarez had nearly 11,000 murders from Dec 2006 through December 2011 and accounted for 13.4 percent of all the murders in Mexico. 
 
In terms of the quality of the data, the article indicates serious omissions. Chiapas (for example) reported only 77 murders in the time period (dec 2006-dec 2011) but the official reporting for the public ministry there says:

“From 2006-2009 no record was found of any homicidios dolosos.” Chiapas appears only to have started counting in 2010. 

Extrapolating from these data provided by the public ministries of the 28 states reporting, we have a base number of 83,541 homicides from Dec 2006-Dec 2011, we can use the number reported nationally by the Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Publica (SNSP) of 8,622 homicides between January-May 2012. 
That is an average of 1,732 homicides per month. [see: http://www.insightcrime.org/insight-latest-news/item/2895-violence-in-mexico-2012-a-halfway-report for this number from SNSP] … Considering that the murders have been reported to be decreasing slightly in 2012, let’s estimate an average of 1,500 homicides per month for June-November 2012 (Pen~a Nieto will take office Dec 1 2012) for an estimate of 9,000 more homicides for the remainder of Calderon’s term. Added to the 92,203 as of the end of May we get an estimate of 101,203 homicides.  Keep in mind that the data obtained through the transparency law and reported in this article does not include ANY numbers from 4 states, including two very violent states: Durango and Coahuila. 
 
Dec 2006-Dec 2011 =                  83,541
Jan-May 2012 (SNSP data) =          8,662
TOTAL as of end of May 2012 =   92,203
Estimate June-Nov 2012 =             9,000
Est. TOTAL Calderon’s term =    101,203
For a person who was always bad at math, I am polishing up at least my arithmetic.  I have looked at the numbers reported by INEGI for 2005-2010. From those numbers we can at least get 4 years of data quickly for the states that did not report homicide numbers and this gives us another estimate of at least 106,392. Considering the missing data and state entities that seem not to have counted homicides at all for several years, I believe it is very reasonable to estimate that by the end of Calderon’s administration more than 110,000 Mexicans will have been victims of homicide.

INEGI data 2007-2010

Durango          2804

Coahuila          1068

Tlaxcala           228

Morelos           1089

TOTAL             5189

101,203 + 5,189 = 106,392

 Molly Molloy
 

44 homicides in July; 584 so far in 2012

El Diario reports 44 homicides in the month of July, another decrease from 49 in June.  Diario gives a total of 580 for the year so far, but by the monthly tallies I have, I think a better figure is 584.  This is an average of 2.7 murders each day in the city. Projecting that the downward trend continues and murders fall to 30 per month for the rest of the year, 2012 will end with more than 700 homicides. About 320 people were victims in 2007–the highest figure ever recorded in the city before the explosion of violence in 2008.

Jan 122; Feb 82; Mar 105; Apr 108; May 74; June 49; July 44

This figure is also consistent with a report an independent researcher got from an official at the Juarez morgue earlier this week–582.  I believe that the discrepancy is due to how some crimes are categorized as “homicidios culposos” rather than dolosos… But I will report the number of 584 as I think it is more accurate.

Three of the victims in July were women. The article reports a total of 70 women victims in 2012, but adding up the monthly reports comes to 73.
Jan 12; Feb 10; Mar 15; Apr 18; May 6; June 9; July 3
Women are 12.5 percent of the total homicide victims in the city.  This rate is consistent with rates over the years: when the overall number of homicides are higher as in 2008-2011, the percentage of the total who are women has tended to go down to between 5 and 8 percent.  When the homicide rates decrease to what seems to be “normal” for the city (as in the current downward trend), then the percentage of the victims who are women rises slightly. I’ve posted below the Diario article all of the numbers I have since 1993.  molly

Juarez Murders 1993-July 2012

 

Total 1993-2007 = 3,538 (0.7 per day)

2007 =  320

2008 = 1,623

2009 = 2,754

2010 = 3,622 (**)

2011 = 2,086

2012 = 584 (as of July 31)

Total killed since 2007 = 10,989

Total killed since 1993 = 14,527

Average of 6.3 people per day since Jan 2008

(**original media tally for 2010=3,111; March 2011 Fiscalia report = 3,951; Fiscalia spokesman gave new figure of 3,622 to Reuters reporter in October 2011)

 

MURDERS OF WOMEN

1993-2007………………427 (3,538) – 12%

2008 ……………………….87   (1,623) – 5.3%

2009……………………….164 (2,754)—5.9%

2010 ………………………304 (3,622) – 8.3%

2011 …………………….. 196  (2,086) – 9.3%

2012 (as of July 31) ………73 (584) – 12.5%

Women………1,251 ( 14,527 total victims) – 8.6%

Women = 8.6 percent

 of total murder victims over the past 18 years

Statistics from El Diario based on official data from the Chihuahua State Attorney General

Todos Somos Juarez spokesman says fewer people killed in Juarez than in New Orleans…fact check??

In the Diario article, quoting Arturo Valenzuela:
Dijo que las cosas en esta frontera ha mejorado dramáticamente al grado de presentar cifras de incidencia delictiva por debajo de Nueva Orleáns, donde hubo un registro mensual de 50 muertos.
 
He said that in this border city the rate of crime has dramatically improved that the crime numbers are now below those of New Orleans where there was a monthly tally of 50 deaths…
 
I checked the current crime stats from New Orleans that indicates there have been 109 murders so far this year–that is current as of today, July 21.  It is likely the highest murder rate in a US city.  New Orleans only has about 350,000 people.  That would be a murder rate of about 31 per 100,000. 
 
But the Diario article goes on to say that there have been 19 murders in Juarez so far in July, and that would not count at least 2 killed on Thursday, one yesterday and one today (Saturday).  By my tally, there were 540 murders in Juarez as of June 30, so now we can say there are at least 560+.  That would calculate to a murder rate of 46 based on a Juarez population of 1.2 million. 
 
At the link, you can check the numbers of murders in New Orleans for the year. 
I have been collecting the stories on Juarez murders, though I’ve not posted them. It looks like between one and two people per day have been victims of homicide in Juarez so far in July. Certainly an improvement over recent years.  But the annual tally so far just past mid-year is nearly twice what it was in 2007. 
 

Mexico homicide numbers 2007-2012 (est.) chart

YEAR

TOTAL  HOMICIDES*

U.S. HOMICIDES@

2007 8,867# 17, 128
2008 14,006# 16,465
2009 19,803# 15,399
2010 24,374# 14,748
2011 22,223+ 14,000 (est. based on rate of decrease)
2012 (Jan-May) 8,662+
2012 (est. Jan-June) 10, 394
2012 (est. projection for year) 20,788 14,000 (est. based on rate of decrease)
Est. total homicides as of June 2012 99,667  
Est. total homicides durig Calderon’s term of office 110, 061 91,740

Posted above are numbers of actual homicides for Mexico as a whole reported by different agencies of the Mexican government. I can provide the links to the sources. Molly

Data from official Mexican statistical agency (INEGI) # and from the National System for Public Security (SNSP) +

U.S. homicides from FBI Uniform Crime Reports @

U.S. population– 311,591,917 Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Mexico population– 112,336,538 Source: National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI)

On the murder rate in Juarez- Norte de Juarez & Insight

This article in Norte de Ciudad Juarez says that the figure of 952 is for the STATE of Chihuahua, not just the city of Juarez.  If the number is really 952 for the state and roughly 540 for the city (as reported by El Diario) then the city still accounts for more than half of all of the murders tallied in Chihuahua. Note also this article in InSight Crime–an analyst reports 510 “organized-crime-related” or “ejecuciones” for Juarez…  It is still very confusing (actually I believe it is impossible) to realistically distinguish between those homicides counted as “organized crime related” vs. other homicides…  The criteria are never clearly stated in any of the sources that report these numbers. The information comes from media accounts in almost all cases, according to the article in Insight… And those reports contain only the most superficial characteristics of the crimes scenes and the killings such as the type of weapon used, the number of people involved, etc. No real investigation is actually completed to determined who killed whom and why.

Note that the analyst’s report used by InSight says that there were “7,022 murders linked to organized crime” from January thru June 2012 in Mexico.  And in a parenthetical note, the report mentions that the SNSP “tallied 8,662 murders nationwide through May, though the June figures have not yet been released.” My estimate for the half-year point for murders nationwide (based on the earlier monthly averages) was about 9,996. But if we take the 8,662 number for Jan-May and divide by 5 we get a monthly average of 1,732 and if we add that to the Jan-May total to estimate the mid-year tally we get a higher estimate of 10,394.  So if the trend continues in the second half of the year, the total homicides in Mexico for 2012 will be about 20,788. This would bring the total number of homicide victims for Calderon’s term to about 110,000.
That said, the trend is that murders are going down in Juarez and yet Juarez is still the city with the highest number of murders. And while the murders are going down in Juarez, they are going up in the smaller city of Chihuahua.

molly