Mexico Peace Index 2017
Peace in Mexico deteriorated by 4.3% in 2016. This follows five consecutive years of improvements in peace, which slowed significantly in 2015 according to the Mexico Peace Index (MPI).
According to the most authoritative research into Mexico’s peacefulness, the Mexico Peace Index, produced annually by the Institute for Economics and Peace, this was the first deterioration in peacefulness since the recovery from the war on drugs began in 2012. It is too early to determine whether the deterioration recorded forms the beginning of a new trend.
This deterioration is largely attributed to an 18% increase in homicides – 61% of which were the result of a deadly attack with a firearm. This is the second consecutive year that Mexico has seen an upward trend in the rate of homicides and the use of firearms. Despite this worrying increase, some promising positive figures portray the hard work that is being done across the country to maintain and improve peacefulness. Violent crime fell by 9% from 2015, with crimes related to organized crimes, such as extortion, reaching their lowest level in a decade as well as the number of people incarcerated without trial decreasing by 13%.
The MPI, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, provides a comprehensive assessment of the level of peace in Mexico, detailing the peacefulness of each of the 32 states of the country during the past 13 years. The analysis takes into account multiple sources, public surveys, and methodological guidance from an expert panel, adjusting, where possible, official data to account for underreporting. The report also evaluates the costs associated with violence and the socio-economic factors related to peace in Mexico, known as Positive Peace. Key findings:
- 2016 marks the first year that Mexico’s MPI score deteriorated since the country began recovering from the drug war in 2012.
- Mexico’s peacefulness deteriorated by 4.3 percent in 2016 when compared to the prior year. The ‘inequality in peacefulness’ between the least and most peaceful states continued to increase.
- The intentional homicide rate rose 18.4 percent in 2016, with 61 percent of deaths involving a firearm.
- The rate of violent crime continued to fall for the fifth year in a row, dropping 9.2 percent last year.
- The nationwide score for detention without a sentence improved by 3.2 percent, for the first time in the last six years, likely reflecting the implementation of Mexico’s newly reformed judicial system.
- Yucatán is now the most peaceful state in Mexico, followed by Nayarit, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo and Coahuila.
- Guerrero remains the least peaceful state, for the fourth year in a row, followed by Colima, Sinaloa, Baja California Sur and Baja California.
The 2016 deterioration in peacefulness led to an estimated additional economic impact of 79 billion pesos, driving the yearly total to 3.07 trillion pesos. This is equivalent to 17.6 percent of Mexico’s GDP or 25,130 pesos per capita, which is more than one month of income for the average Mexican worker. In some states, this economic impact is much more significant; for example, in Colima, it was almost $66,500 pesos per capita.
Impunity is also a major challenge for Mexico. On average, nine percent of crimes committed are punished. Impunity is a widespread issue across multiple states, law enforcement, and justice agencies, including impunity for violence committed by some state actors. There is also a high level of impunity for violence against journalists, with 76 media professionals being murdered in 2016. This indicates the ongoing need for Mexico to improve the capacity of its judicial and law enforcement systems.
The 2017 report highlights the need to maintain the pace of structural and institutional reforms, such as the implementation of judicial reform and improvements in transparency and accountability. Mexico has made and continues to make significant strides in improving both levels of violence and the rule of law and the quality of governance and law enforcement, the country still remains almost 14% more peaceful than at the height of the drug war in 2011, with 21 of the 32 states improving. Violent crime rates are at their lowest level in 14 years, while the homicide rate is 16% lower than in 2011.
Future improvements are likely to come from the bottom up. Federal reforms are starting to materialize, but violence has localized patterns in Mexico and local governments have the most work to do.