El Salvador , Guatemala , Honduras and Mexico
Opinion Piece

Is Mexico the world's second most violent country?

Bnamericas Published: Friday, May 19, 2017

Is Mexico's battle with the drug cartels really the world's second most violent conflict, after the civil war in Syria?

Mexico's government denies the claim made by the well-respected International institute for Strategic Studies, saying the statistics used as the base for the assertion are not reliable. According to IISS, the fight against the drug barons resulted in 23,000 deaths last year, although – in proportion to the size of the population – conflicts in other parts of the world were certainly more deadly.

If the so-called northern triangle of Central America is included – Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – the number of violent deaths rose to 39,000, says IISS. Shocking figures indeed. Although accurate, up-to-date statistics are hard to come by, and definitions of homicide and armed conflict vary, the three Central American nations actually have considerably higher murder rates than that of Mexico, as do some South American nations, notably Venezuela. What is more, one could argue, the conflict in Mexico is largely – although certainly not entirely – confined to the cartels, the security forces, and other involved parties (not least journalists, as the recent murder of Javier Valdez in Culiacán, Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán's home city, testifies). One thing is for sure, it doesn't impact the local populace on anything like the scale of the conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Sudan and other war-torn states.

Nevertheless, the situation is dire, and while it simmered for a time in the early years of the Peña Nieto government following his pledge to limit the militarization of the fight against the cartels, it has escalated disturbingly recently, according to the think tank, and has "reached a level akin to armed conflicts."

In the northern triangle, meanwhile, Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) says in a new report that it has witnessed and documented "a pattern of violent displacement, persecution, sexual violence, and forced repatriation akin to the conditions found in the deadliest armed conflicts in the world today."

So what is to be done? There are clearly no easy fixes (building walls certainly won't help), and the issues go beyond narcotics dealing. But for as long as the demand for drugs remains strong, especially in the United States, there will always be vendors willing to engage in violence to sell their wares. Donald Trump said in last year's election campaign he would curb drug abuse in the US. It is to be hoped that that pledge doesn't turn out to be yet another empty promise.

Subscribe to the leading business intelligence platform in Latin America with different tools for Providers, Contractors, Operators, Government, Legal, Financial and Insurance industries.

Subscribe to Latin America’s most trusted business intelligence platform.

Other projects in: Electric Power

Get critical information about thousands of Electric Power projects in Latin America: what stages they're in, capex, related companies, contacts and more.

  • Project: PSF Maule X
  • Current stage: Blurred
  • Updated: 2 years ago
  • Project: Solar Quilmo
  • Current stage: Blurred
  • Updated: 7 months ago
  • Project: El Cardenal
  • Current stage: Blurred
  • Updated: 9 months ago

Other companies in: Electric Power (El Salvador)

Get critical information about thousands of Electric Power companies in Latin America: their projects, contacts, shareholders, related news and more.

  • Company: Ente Operador Regional  (EOR)
  • Ente Operador Regional, EOR (Regional Operator Entity) is a Central American agency with its own legal personality, made up of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa...
  • Company: Duke Energy El Salvador
  • Electric power generation firm Duke Energy El Salvador, a unit of US Duke Energy, began operating in El Salvador in 1999. The firm has four plants in the country with a combined...