Mexico Peace Index 2016

Peace in Mexico has improved in the last year by 0.3%, but the annual rate of progress has slowed significantly, according to the Mexico Peace Index (MPI).

While Mexico saw a 10% decrease in the rate of violent crimes and 8% decrease in the rate of organized crime in the last year, this was countered by a 6% increase in the homicide rate, as well as increases in the rates of crimes committed with firearms and prisoners incarcerated without a sentence.

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:

  • Mexico has seen a 10% decline in the rate of violent crime and an 8% decrease in the rate of organized crime-related offenses in the last year.
  • However, the homicide rate deteriorated for the first time in four years, with a 6% increase in the number of people killed between 2014 and 2015.
  • The states that improved the most in peacefulness since 2011 are: Nayarit, Durango, Nuevo Leon, Chihuahua, and Baja California. In 2011, these states were among the seven least peaceful.
  • In 2015, the total economic impact of violence in Mexico was 2.12 trillion pesos, which is equivalent to 13% of the nation’s GDP.
  • Mexico has the second highest surplus of Positive Peace in the world, indicating its potential to improve in peacefulness.
  • Investments in the effective implementation of judicial reforms, improvements to data collection and lowering of levels of corruption are key to future gains. 

Since the height of the drug war in 2011, the country´s level of peacefulness has improved by 13%. According to the report, 25 of the 32 Mexican states are more peaceful than they were in 2011, with rates of violent crime, homicide and organized crime-related offenses down by nearly 30% for the period from 2011 to 2015. It is too early to determine if the minor improvement in peacefulness in 2015 is an exception to the current 5-year trend or if peacefulness will continue to plateau.

The MPI indicates that about 85% of Mexicans live in states that are more peaceful today than they were in 2011. The states with the greatest improvements in peacefulness since 2011 are: Nayarit, Durango, Nuevo Leon, Chihuahua, and Baja California. In 2011, these were among the seven least peaceful states.

The report has identified a worrying trend towards greater impunity, with the rate of convictions for homicide dramatically deteriorating since 2007. In that year, there were four convictions for every five cases of murder, but by 2013 there was only one conviction for every five cases. This, coupled with the increase in prisoners being held without trial, reveals the saturation of the judicial system, as indicated by the statistics of prison overcrowding.

The five most peaceful states in 2015 are: Hidalgo, Yucatán, Veracruz, Tlaxcala and San Luis Potosí, while the least peaceful states are Guerrero, Sinaloa, Morelos, Baja California and Baja California Sur.

The report stresses the need for government bodies to improve data capacity. The current reliability of official crime statistics in Mexico is a concern, as indicated by the following factors: 93% of some crimes are not reported (referred to in Mexico as cifra negra); the 20% discrepancy in 11 states between the numbers of homicides registered by the Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública (SESNSP) compared to those recorded in death certificates by the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI); and the data published by Registro Nacional de Datos de Personas Extraviadas o Desaparecidas (RNPED) that lists over 26,000 people as disappeared since 2007 who remain missing, a figure considered to be conservative.

To illustrate this challenge, the MPI includes a discussion on the accuracy of official data, with the state of Veracruz topping the list. While Veracruz ranks as the third most peaceful state in the MPI, it also records the highest discrepancy in the reporting of homicide victims between SESNSP and INEGI. SESNSP only recorded 63% as many homicides as INEGI in 2014. Mexico’s victimization survey also reports that 80% of citizens in the state of Veracruz feel insecure.

However, there is great potential to improve peacefulness. In comparison to countries with similar levels of violence, Mexico benefits from the second highest difference in the world between its actual peace and its Positive Peace, the factors that sustain peaceful societies. This is reflected in the relatively high scores in the domains of sound business environment, equitable distribution of resources, and good relations with neighboring countries. Investing in improving the judicial system and lowering levels of corruption will lead to improvements in peacefulness, which will reap social and economic rewards.

Mexico Peace Index

Mexico Peace Index

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