For the first time in more than five years, Mexico is showing signs that its spasmodic violence is beginning to recede.
National statistics comparing January to May 2012 with the same period in 2011 indicate an 8 percent drop in homicides, the most troubling symptom of violence related to drug cartels. For a country buffeted by levels of brutality that climbed ever higher each successive year since Mexican President Felipe Calderón launched an offensive against the cartels in 2007, this is indeed welcome news.
The numbers are encouraging on the local level, too. Homicide rates in Tijuana, once a major site of drug-related violence, have fallen 42 percent from their peak in 2008 after federal forces dismantled and replaced the municipal police — greatly improving the city’s security situation. And Ciudad Juarez, long the epicenter of Mexico’s drug war and until recently regarded as the most violent city in the Americas — if not the world — experienced a stunning 60 percent decrease in the number of violent deaths in the first six months of 2012, compared with a year earlier. (More than 10,500 people have been killed in the city since the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels began battling each other in 2008 for control of the lucrative gateway into U.S. markets.)