Mexico Institute in the News: Mexico Updates Death Toll in Drug War to 47,515, but Critics Dispute the Data
The New York Times, January 11, 2012; ABC News Radio, January 11, 2012; Dalje, January 12, 2012
The Mexican government updated its drug war death toll on Wednesday, reporting that 47,515 people had been killed in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderón began a military assault on criminal cartels in late 2006.
The new official tally provided by the attorney general’s office included data only through September, and it showed that drug-related killings increased 11 percent, to 12,903, compared with the same nine-month period in 2010…
…The Mexican government has failed to create the tracking system it needs to understand criminal trends and improve security, experts say, even as it has become more secretive with the limited information it has.
“Our frustration is that they have some information and some numbers, something that would be valuable and they are not releasing them,”
said Eric Olson, a security expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.
“And there is a whole bunch of other things that are not well defined and can lead to erroneous conclusions.”
The number of drug-related deaths is the subject of much dispute. Government officials last gave a figure — 34,612 — at the end of 2010, promising to update their tally regularly. They did not follow through. A group of Mexican and American academics, including Mr. Olson, began pleading with the Calderón administration for death figures, along with other data known to be collected, including violent episodes involving the military. But members of the group say they were ignored…
…“Since there are very few actual investigations, those are approximations at best... They’re hunches. There is not really a way of knowing precisely if it was caused by organized crime or a drug trafficker or not.”…
Read the full article here.
ABC News Radio discussed the New York Times article here.
Dalje wrote a similar article with many of the same quotes here.