This year has been Mexico’s deadliest on record.
A total of 23,101 murder investigations were launched nationwide between January and November, reported Reuters, citing figures released by the country’s interior ministry. That’s Mexico’s highest annual murder tally since modern records began in 1997.
2011 had previously held the ignominious title, with 22,409 murders. (This year’s murder rate — at 18.7 per 100,000 inhabitants — remains lower than it was in 2011, when it soared to 19.4 per 100,000.)
The record-breaking murder tally has been described as a major blow to President Enrique Pena Nieto and his Institutional Revolutionary Party as Mexico prepares to elect a new president in July 2018.
When Pena Nieto took office in 2012, he had promised to bring peace to a country weary from years of violence. As Reuters notes, the number of murders did dip during the first two years of his tenure, but has since been on the rise.
On Thursday, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a report that Mexico ― outside of active war zones ― was the deadliest country for journalists in 2017. At least six journalists were murdered in the country this year “in reprisal for their work,” and three other slayings are under investigation, according to the CPJ.
The deaths include that of Javier Valdez Cardenas, an investigative reporter who had covered Sinaloa’s drug war. Valdez was forced out of his car in broad daylight in May and shot dead by two gunmen.
“Impunity continues to fester in Mexico,” Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ’s Mexico representative, told VICE News last week. “Journalist murders hardly ever get investigated, they hardy ever get prosecuted. As that situation continues, the violence continues to be exacerbated.”
Violence against women in Mexico is also on the rise. According a joint report published earlier this month by UN Women, the country’s Interior Ministry and National Women’s Institute, Mexico’s rate of femicide ballooned in the past decade.