Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto delivers his annual state-of-the-union address, at the National Palace in Mexico City, on September 2, 2017. Peña Nieto said security is the government’s top priority, amid growing violence that marred his fifth year in office. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

Last year marked Mexico’s deadliest year on record. The latest estimates provided by the Mexican interior ministry place the annualized homicide tally at 25,340 registered cases, while the total number of victims was 29,159. This is equivalent to 81 people killed per day.

At a rate of 20.5 homicide cases per 100,000 inhabitants, the 2017 figure surpassed a previous peak recorded in 2011, at the height of Mexico’s so-called “war on drugs.” This is the second year in a row that the country’s annual homicide rate has increased by more than 20%. Last year was also the second consecutive year that the federal government’s internal security expenditure contracted by more than nine percent. Cutting the resources allocated to contain violence, at a time when it has risen to unprecedented levels, seems counterintuitive.

Only 34% of Mexicans reported to feel safe in their municipality in 2017— the lowest figure recorded since public authorities began surveying citizens on their security perceptions seven years ago. Given the degree of insecurity, Mexico’s security woes are becoming more salient ahead of the presidential election this July. Despite the lack of political consensus on how to tackle Mexico’s escalating level of violence, its current magnitude warrants an adjustment in the federal government’s efforts to address it. Read more