Mexico records highest homicide rate in 20 years

At least 23,000 people killed over the past year, giving the Central American nation its highest annual homicide rate in two decades.

    Mexico has recorded its most violent year on record, after at least 23,000 people were murdered in 2017.

    That means that on average, one death was reported in Mexico every 20 minutes over the past year.

    The staggering figure - the highest since the country began keeping records two decades ago - is being blamed on corruption, a weak judiciary and violent drug cartels.

    Mario Gonzalez Roman, an expert on security, trafficking and crime in Mexico, told Al Jazeera he was "not surprised" by the increase in deaths, however.

    He blamed the record-breaking toll on the ongoing war on drugs being waged in Mexico.

    "This is the result of a failed policy," Gonzalez Roman told Al Jazeera.

    "It's a war that makes no sense."

    Another security expert, Raul Benitez Manaut, said the extradition of Joaquin Guzman, a Mexican drug lord better known as El Chapo, to the US last January, has also had an impact on the homicide rate.

    He said new criminal organisations are appearing - while others are dissolving - and a "great struggle" for control is being waged "in regions of the country where there was relative peace".

    States in Mexico that have been relatively calm in the past have also recorded a drastic increase in killings this year.

    For instance, in Baja California, which borders the US state of California, the murder rate doubled.

    Meanwhile, the families of victims are calling on the Mexican government to do more.

    Cristina Bautiez is the mother of one of 43 students who went missing in 2014 on their way to a protest in the town of Iguala. The remains of only two of the students have been identified to date.

    While Mexico officials say corrupt local police handed the students over to a drug cartel, which killed them and burned their bodies, relatives and human rights activists have disputed the state's version of what happened.

    "It's not fair that 39 months [after the disappearances] and our children have not been returned," Bautiez said.


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