By The Economist. NE of the striking features of Mexico’s crackdown on drug gangs is that the resulting violence has kept a wide berth of the capital. Of the 34,612 murders related to organised crime that the government counted between 2007 and 2010, just 1.9% took place in Mexico City. Considering that the metropolis accounts for about 8% of the country’s population, that’s not bad going.
You don’t need to go far to find trouble, however. The state of Mexico, which almost encircles the capital, has seen a big increase in violence, as has Morelos, which shares a border with the south of Mexico City. As you can see in the following chart, the number of killings in these states has increased sharply since the end of 2006, when the government’s assault began.
But how bothered should you be if you live in Mexico City? If violence has broken out at the opposite end of the state next door, it might not affect you in the least. If it’s lapping at the edges of the capital, however, it might be more of a problem.
Thanks to the recent publication of some comprehensive data on the location of homicides, it is now possible to plot the violence more precisely. In the second chart, I have plotted killings in Mexico City, plus those that took place in the municipalities that directly border it (13 from Mexico state and three from Morelos). This useful map should give you a better idea of what I’m getting at.
Two things stand out. Firstly, Mexico City is well insulated from the violence taking place in Morelos. Though some Morelos municipalities, such as Cuernavaca, have seen an alarming rise in killings (now tapering off, it seems), the three municipalities that border Mexico City have seen almost none.
In Mexico state, however, is the opposite is true. In this state of 125 municipalities, the 13 that share a border with Mexico City have accounted for a disproportionately large chunk of the trouble. Indeed, over the past four years they have witnessed 797 murders linked to organised crime—just over half the total for the entire state.
The message from these numbers is that for Mexico City, much of the violence happening in its neighbouring states is closer to home than its residents might like to think. Violence in the capital itself, strictly defined, has remained stable. But when one includes the immediate suburbs, the annual number of killings has more than doubled since 2007.