The WaPo has one of those end-of-the-year-wrap-up stories today about the drug wars raging in that nation to our south, the one with which we share a 1,951 mile-long border - in Mexico, 12,000 killed in drug violence:
The daily newspaper Reforma, one of the most respected independent outlets, reported 12,359 drug-related killings in 2011, which it said was a 6.3 percent increase over the previous year. As a comparison, there were 2,275 drug murders in 2007.
-- snip --
Other media reported similar numbers. Daily Milenio recorded 12,284 drug-related deaths in 2011. The La Jornada newspaper counted 11,890 deaths in 2011, which it said was an 11 percent decrease from the previous year.
The Mexican government has not reported the official figures yet (they say they will next month), which might be a clue that the figures are too embarrassing for them to report in a national election year.
But the figures are out there, all the same. The Justice in Mexico Project, sponsored by the Trans-Border Institute of the University of San Diego, has tons of excellent data sets and analysis of the drug wars here.
The bottom line is the situation got just a little bit worse last year. About six percent more people were killed than in 2010, with a slightly higher incidence of women and innocent victims. Beheading became a little more popular as a signature method of execution. The weapons and tactics got somewhat more military - is that an AT4 anti-tank rocket next to the hand grenades in the photo above?
The geographic distribution of violence within Mexico changed a bit, probably reflecting a trend toward more cartel-on-cartel battling. The result was that some parts of the borderlands got calmer while previously quiet interior places such as Veracruz and Guadalajara got much more dangerous. The WaPo put a positive spin on that change:
One of the few bright spots is that the murder rate appears to be down in border manufacturing hub of Ciudad Juarez, dubbed Murder City, by about a third. Baja California and Tijuana also saw decreases in homicides.
The murder rate is down by a third in Juarez? Sounds good, but that might be because more Mexicans are fleeing the violence. The University of Texas El Paso's student reporting project on the Mexodus indicates that over a quarter million people have either been internally displaced to safer regions in Mexico or have crossed the border. Anyone in Juarez with two pesos to rub together has most likely sought a safe haven elsewhere.
What's the right word for a tragedy that got just a little more tragic?