With every new year, Mexico’s murder rate keeps going up and up and up. In the first half of this year, Mexico’s homicide rate hit its highest point on record, with 14,603 murders from January to June, compared to 13,985 homicides registered in the same time period last year. If the number of murders continues to grow at this rate, Mexico will surpass the 29,111 homicides of last year, an all-time high.
For his part, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has blamed the economic policies of previous administrations for exacerbating violence. AMLO campaigned on a promise to lower insecurity by creating employment alternatives for youth and avoiding confrontation with criminal groups. But as of now, he’s betting on the newly created National Guard to tackle issues of insecurity.
And while the imprisonment of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, was supposed to be the start of a domino effect that would lead to the fall of drug cartels across Mexico, sadly, the situation has only gotten worse. As Azam Ahmed notes in The New York Times, the so-called Kingpin Strategy pushed by the United States—in which authorities try to dismantle drug cartels by going after their leaders—has failed. “Instead of destroying the cartels by cutting off their heads, the policy has spawned multi-headed hydras, smaller, less disciplined and often-deadlier spinoffs,” writes Ahmed.
The rise in murders and violence in Mexico also coincides with the rise in child and adolescent recruitment by criminal organizations. According to a report by the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, an estimated 300,000 children and adolescents were actively working with criminal organizations in 2015. By late 2018, the figure was estimated to have increased by 150 percent, reaching around 400,000 children, according to Mexico’s Public Security Minister, Alfonso Durazo. As it stands, the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime seems to be never-ending. If capturing the drug trade’s most dangerous leaders won’t end trafficking, and AMLO’s security proposals are far from delivering, what will?