Mexico has witnessed one of its worst years in terms of violence, official records for 2017 reveal. The statistics indicate that 23,101 murders were investigated in the first 11 months of this year — numbers that show a steady rise from the 22,409 that were registered across the 12 months of 2011.
The figures published by the interior ministry on 22 December, indicate that 2017 has been the worst year in terms of murder since the records began two decades ago, in 1997. The states of Guerrero, Mexico and Baja California, all well-known for drug cartel-related violence, top the list with over 2,000 homicides in each.
According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies' annual Armed Conflict Survey, the numbers may even surpass those recorded in actual war zones, with Mexico averaging close to 80 murders a day.
Last year, 17,000 deaths were recorded in Afghanistan and 16,000 in Iraq.
While homicide investigations were higher than 2011, the murder rate is still lower, if only by a small margin. It is 18.7 per 100,000 inhabitants for 2017 compared to 2011's 19.4 per 100,000.
These recent figures come as a massive blow to President Enrique Pena Nieto who had promised to curb gang violence. In 2012, after he took office, the murder numbers were on the decline for two years, but have been on the upswing since. With presidential elections due to take place in 2018, Niento's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is expected to face the backlash for the surge in violence and reduce its chances of winning a majority.
While the statistics are high in Mexico, the country still ranks lower on the murder scale compared to its Latin American counterparts.
UN figures used in the World Bank's online database indicate that in 2015, Brazil and Colombia both had a murder rate of 27 per 100,000, Venezuela 57, Honduras 64 and El Salvador 109.
Mexico's neighbour to the north, the United States had a homicide rate of 5 per 100,000.