MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico registered more murders in March than in any other of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s months in office, preliminary figures show, suggesting that coronavirus-related social distancing measures were not enough to curb raging violence.
The country saw 2,585 murders in March, an average of around 83 per day, according to data on victims reported by state prosecutors and the federal government. That was the highest monthly number since June 2019.
Lopez Obrador, who took office in December 2018, acknowledged on Friday that violence driven by organized crime had persisted in March, despite the government’s introduction of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, such as suspending classes and urging residents of the capital to stay home.
“It seemed in late March, when the coronavirus had become more widespread, that we would have a considerable reduction (in violence),” he said during his regular morning news conference.
“Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way.”
The president said that crime rates fell overall in the first quarter of the year, but that they did not decline as much as he would have liked. Final figures show murders dipped in January and February.
Lopez Obrador has adopted a security strategy that emphasizes attacking the root causes of crime, such as poverty. The approach has been criticized by some as Mexico continues to be rocked by outbursts of staggering violence.
(Reporting by Raul Cortes; writing by Julia Love; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien for Reuters)