On Thursday, President Trump tweeted, "Mexico was just ranked the second deadliest country in the world, after only Syria." He added, "Drug trade is largely the cause. We will BUILD THE WALL!"
Mexico was just ranked the second deadliest country in the world, after only Syria. Drug trade is largely the cause. We will BUILD THE WALL!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017
Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Videgaray Caso responded with a statement that disputed Trump’s assertion. "While Mexico does have a significant problem of violence, Mexico is NOT the second most violent nation in the world," said the statement from Mexico’s foreign ministry, which was announced on Twitter. "According to UN figures for 2014 (the most recent international report), Mexico is far from being one of the most violent countries."
Mexican foreign secretary Videgaray Caso tagged Trump in a tweet, which linked to a press release, responding to his claim.
Mexico’s response came on Thursday and just a few hours after Trump made the assertion on Twitter. Mexico continues to see violent clashes among narco-traffickers seeking to challenge each other’s dominance, and between security forces and the narco-traffickers. Every year, Mexico has seen thousands of violent murders of police, prosecutors, journalists, and civilians in a war that has challenged the US neighbor’s sovereignty.
Recent data shows that the number of investigations into murder in Mexico in May hit a high of 2,186 investigations. Also, Trump may have been referring to a similar report that was published in the same month by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. That report put the deathly tally for 2016 at 23,000 killings in Mexico. That report compared the level of deaths in Syria, which hit approximately 50,000 in 2016.
According to the latest data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Colombia have higher homicide rates than Mexico. At the top of the list is Honduras, one of the poorest nations in the Americas, which had a homicide rate of about 90 killings per 100,000 people. That point was mentioned in Mexico's press release, which also passed the buck to the US for its continued demand for illegal drugs that are provided by Mexican drug cartels. "Drug trafficking is a shared problem that will end only by addressing its root causes: high demand for drugs in the U.S. and supply from Mexico," the statement read.
According to the editor of the IISS study, Anastasia Voronkova, "The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan claimed 17,000 and 16,000 lives respectively in 2016, although in lethality they were surpassed by conflicts in Mexico and Central America, which have received much less attention from the media and the international community." ISS Chief Executive and Director-General John Chipman said that the statistics for Mexico were alarming, "considering that the conflict deaths are nearly all attributable to small arms." Mexico's 23,000 conflict-related deaths in 2016 marked an increase from 17,000 in 2015 and 15,000 in 2014.
Things are getting worse in Mexico, thereby validating Trump's expression of concern. Having tabulated the number of homicides committed over the last two decades, Mexico's National System for Public Security found that May 2017 was the worst month on record. During May 2017, 2,186 people were murdered nationwide. During the first five months of this year, there were 9,916 killings in Mexico: an increased of about 30 percent from 7,638 during the same period in 2016.
Mexico admitted that it does have a "significant problem." In its press release, Mexico's foreign ministry stated, "While Mexico does have a significant problem of violence, Mexico is NOT the second most violent nation in the world. According to UN figures for 2014 (the most recent international report), Mexico is far from being one of the most violent countries. In Latin America alone, countries such as Honduras, Venezuela, Belize, Colombia and Brazil had homicide rates of 90.4, 53.7, 44.7, 30.8 and 25.2, respectively, per 100,000 inhabitants, while Mexico had a rate of 16.4, well below many of the countries in the region."
The release went on to say, "Illicit drug trade is indeed the most important cause of violence in Mexico and drug trafficking is costing thousands of lives both in Mexico and the US." Shunting the blame to Mexico's northern neighbor, the statement said, "However, as has been repeatedly stated by the U.S. government itself, drug trafficking is a shared problem that will end only by addressing its root causes: high demand for drugs in the U.S. and supply from Mexico (and other countries). In order to be effective, we must be able to move beyond finger-pointing. We look forward to continue working with the US government against drug trafficking based on the principles of shared responsibility, teamwork, and trust." The statement was issued in English and Spanish.