World (AP)

Mexico’s homicide rate dropped in 2022, but appears to flatline in 2023, official figures show | AP News

Mexico’s homicide rate dropped in 2022, but appears to flatline in 2023, official figures show | AP News

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The most reliable count shows that homicides in Mexico declined significantly for the first time in several years in 2022, Mexico’s National Statistics Institute said Tuesday.

Mexico’s National Statistics Institute said there were 32,223 killings in 2022, 9.7% less than in 2021. The country’s homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants dropped from about 28 in 2021 to 25 in 2022.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has struggled persistently with high homicide rates since he took office in December 2018, said the decline represented the results of his “hugs not bullets” policy of avoiding open confrontation with drug cartels, while funding training and scholarship programs for youths.

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“The strategy of addressing the root causes of violence is beginning to show results,” López Obrador said.

However, the number of killings nationwide appears to have essentially flatlined in the first half of 2023, when there were 15,122 killings, compared to 15,381 in the same period of 2022.

By comparison, the U.S. homicide rate in 2021 was about 7.8 per 100,000 inhabitants.

The six-month figures are preliminary reports by police and prosecutors. The Statistics Institute’s figures are released annually with a six-month delay, but are considered more reliable — and are generally higher — because they are based on death certificates.

Much of the violence in Mexico is attributed to disputes between drug cartels, which are also involved in kidnapping, extortion and other forms of contraband.