13 May, 2017
Mexico's government rejected research showing the country had become a more deadly conflict zone than Afghanistan and Iraq, after President Donald Trump retweeted a report on the findings.
The government also pointed to Mexico's relatively low murder rate per 100,000 people, as compared to other Latin American countries. More than 175,000 people have been killed since President Enrique Pena Nieto's predecessor, Felipe Calderon, sent the army to take on drug cartels shortly after taking office in 2006.
The country has surpassed both Iraq and Afghanistan to become the world's most violent country after Syria, the study by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) says.
Globally, deaths from conflict fell from 167,000 in 2015 to 157,000 a year ago, according to the IISS.
"It is noteworthy that the largest rises in fatalities were registered in states that were key battlegrounds for control between competing, increasingly fragmented cartels", Anastasia Voronkova, editor of the survey, stated.
In all four countries, armed forces have been deployed for many years specifically to fight criminal gangs and, in the case of Mexico, transnational drug-trafficking cartels, with military-grade weapons and vast financial resources.
Mexican drug cartels take in between $19 billion and $29 billion annually from U.S. drug sales, according to the Department of Homeland Security. "If they released this number monthly, or at least annually, we would be happy to use it", IISS said in a statement to Newsweek.
"Also this has been going on since the beginning of the modern drug trade in the Americas".
In the 2016 National Drug Threat Assessment, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reported, "Mexican TCOs [Drug Cartels] remain the greatest criminal drug threat to the United States; no other group is now positioned to challenge them". It's not news in that sense.
But analysts in Mexico cast doubt on the IISS methodology and questioned why the country was singled out in the ensuing coverage. "They are intentionally targeted in Mexico, which puts a dampener on the ability to report on this", he added. Court documents filed by the DOJ against Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, state that corrupting government officials was the cornerstone of the cartel's success, Breitbart Texas reported.
The number of conflict fatalities globally edged down previous year, from 167,000 to 157,000, according to the IISS.
"This year's "armed conflict survey" shows how the character of conflict is changing", Chipman said.