Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mexico's drug war

Storm clouds with silver linings

A series of choreographed horrors belies an overall drop in killings

MURDER has become so common in parts of Mexico that gangsters craving attention must go to ever more appalling lengths. The 49 or so mutilated bodies dumped on May 13th on a roadside close to Monterrey, a wealthy city near the Texan border, were enough to make the front pages. The massacre was the worst since last August, when 52 people were killed in an arson attack on a casino in the same city. The latest outrage may be even deadlier: investigators are still not sure how many victims the body parts add up to.
The horror diverted attention from a rare drop in Mexico's overall murder rate. The opening quarter of 2012 saw the first year-on-year fall in killings since the government's assault on the gangs got going in 2007. The 5,037 murders (which include ordinary killings as well as mafia hits) represented a 7% drop compared with the same period last year, and a 17% decline compared with the worst three months of last summer. The government no longer breaks out mafia-linked murders, but Reforma, a newspaper, reckons that so far this year these are 10% down on last year.
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