MEXICO CITY – President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday that homicides have fallen marginally in Mexico since he took office Dec. 1, continuing to push back against a report in a leading newspaper asserting that murders were up 65 percent.
“It is quite slight, but I maintain that although there’s a small decrease, there’s a downward trend starting from the time we took over (the office), but we will wait,” the president said during his daily morning press conference.
Wednesday’s edition of capital daily Reforma featured a front-page story stating that the number of homicides nationwide climbed from 537 in November, the final month in power for President Enrique Peña Nieto, to 887 in December, an increase of 65 percent.
Lopez Obrador denounced the story Wednesday as yellow journalism.
Joining the president at Thursday’s press conference was the federal public safety secretary, Alfonso Durazo, who said Reforma’s report lacks credibility.
Surprisingly, he emphasized that the homicide figures would normally be even higher than those provided by the newspaper, since there are usually more than 2,000 murders per month.
Durazo said that there were 2,686 murders recorded during November, according to official figures, compared with 1,786 during the period Dec. 8-31.
He said that in the first days of the new administration, the sources used for crime statistics were not yet completely reliable.
“Any government could take advantage of the wrong information since it is far below the real number of homicides that are committed in the country, but we will not take advantage of a newspaper’s mistake; we are working with official figures,” the secretary said.
He pointed out five flaws in Reforma’s methodology, including a lack of clarity and transparency of the sources.
Mexico registered 31,174 homicides in 2017, the highest annual figure in two decades, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography.