Baja California study violence
FILE PHOTO: Police officers secure an area as part of search for Debanhi Escobar, an 18-year-old law student who has been missing since April 9, in Escobedo, Mexico April 20, 2022. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril/

An average of 17 atrocities were reported in news outlets in Mexico each day during the first six months of 2022, up 18% from the same period last year, according to a new study.

The non-governmental organization Causa en Comun, which defined atrocities as the intentional use of force to severely abuse, maim, kill or provoke terror, counted 5,463 victims from 3,123 events reported in 2,657 news articles.

Reports of violence increased in every state in Mexico, but were concentrated in the Pacific coastal state of Baja California, where they nearly tripled, as well as in the central states of Guanajuato and Michoacan.

“This work points to an accumulation of stories that present a mosaic of pain and cruelty, hidden behind crime statistics,” the organization said in a statement.

“The purpose of our study is to rescue our capacity to be moved by the accumulation of horrors.”

In Mexico, where some newspapers and TV are dedicated to “nota roja” crime reporting, decades of violence have left over 100,000 missing and recently driven efforts to restructure the country’s security forces.

Though the new study was not exhaustive, it underlined the severity and number of atrocities recorded every day in Mexico.

In the first half of 2022, the study found that the number of reports of torture had doubled to 856, while those of women killed using “extreme cruelty” rose 87% to 410.

Media reports of “high-impact” violence by criminal groups against authorities or large crowds meanwhile rose 756%, from 25 to 214.

Although the problem of organized crime dominates public debate, the study noted that a large part of the violence was perpetrated by individuals, and within families or communities.

Beyond police work, the problem of violence requires sociological and specialized psychological work on a national scale, it said.

The group published its report the same day as Mexico’s lower house of Congress debated a controversial bill to bring the civilian-led national guard under army control, which critics say would militarize law and order.

(Reporting by Sarah Morland; editing by William Mallard)



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Ellen Bullock