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Mexico’s homicide rate stayed high in 2020 despite pandemic

January 20, 2021 GMT
FILE - In this Jan. 2, 2019 file photo, police guard the scene of a murder after a man was shot to death in Acapulco, Mexico. Mexico's homicide rate remained high in 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic, with a small decline compared to 2019. Authorities hailed the decline to 34,515 homicides in 2020, but the difference was only 133 murders less than the 34,648 committed in 2019. (AP Photo/Bernardindo Hernandez, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 2, 2019 file photo, police guard the scene of a murder after a man was shot to death in Acapulco, Mexico. Mexico's homicide rate remained high in 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic, with a small decline compared to 2019. Authorities hailed the decline to 34,515 homicides in 2020, but the difference was only 133 murders less than the 34,648 committed in 2019. (AP Photo/Bernardindo Hernandez, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s homicide rate remained high in 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic, with a decline of only 0.4% compared to 2019, the government reported Wednesday.

Authorities hailed the decline to 34,515 homicides in 2020, but that was only 133 fewer than the 34,648 committed in 2019. The decline is equivalent to just over one day’s worth of the average daily homicide toll of 95 killings.

Many had expected that partial lockdowns and reduced movement due to the coronavirus pandemic would significantly reduce the number of killings.

It is the second straight year that homicides have basically flatlined in Mexico. More reliable figures published by the National Statistics Institute showed a similar decline of about half a percent between 2018 and 2019.

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Since President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office in December 2018, Mexico’s homicide rate has remained at historically high levels of 29 killings per 100,000 inhabitants in 2019, according to the Statistics Institute figures. In Wednesday’s report, the army, police and National Guard, cited a lower figure of 27 per 100,000 for 2020

However, the statistic institute’s figures, which are based on death certificates, are considered more reliable.

By comparison, there were about 5 murders per 100,000 people in the United States in 2018, the latest year for which comparable data is available.

Homicide rates were over 70 per 100,000 inhabitants in four Mexican states: the border states of Baja California and Chihuahua, the Pacific coast state of Colima and the north-central state of Guanajuato. Drug cartels are fighting turf battles in all of those states.

The border city of Tijuana saw over 4,000 homicides in 2020, or almost 12% of the national total.