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Chilapa and the failed strategy

In just five years, the murder rate in this community increased 600%; it's time to rethink the strategy against drug trafficking
Chilapa and the failed strategy
Soldier in Chilapa, Guerrero - File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
08/04/2018
08:58
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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The people of Chilapa, Guerrero, are currently living a merger of the tragic path of violence, death, social and economic depression, corruption, and an absence of rule of law that many communities in Mexico and their thousands of inhabitants suffer today because of the drug trade but also because of the strategy that the last two federal administrations have implemented to fight this crime.

And because of the chaos reigning here, Chilapa could also be considered the image of the failure of this strategy of fighting drug cartels head-on.

For the past few years, death, armed forces, and cops have coexisted peacefully in Chilapa. Since 2014, at least six operations have been launched in the community, one which had no precedent: in January 2016, 3,500 soldiers and 250 state and federal agents were deployed to this relatively small community.

However, the presence of the armed forces and the police agents didn't stop violence, on the contrary: according to official figures, insecurity is on the rise. Something that suggests the collusion of authorities and criminals – there's no other explanation.

Between 2016 and 2017, the federal government included this community in its strategy to assist the 50 more violent communities in the country. The organization México Evalúa (roughly, Mexico Assesses) reviewed the strategy and analyzed the situation of the community eight months prior and eight months following its implementation and the result was that Chilapa, which had been ranked 19 in the list, ended up in number 4. After the operation, the 50 communities had an overall increase in homicides by 19%, going from 8,895 to 10,597.

In 2012, a year in which the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security registered as one of the most violent years in Mexico, there were 29 murders in Chilapa. Next year, 46. In 2014 – when the drug cartels Los Ardillos and Los Rojos began to fight over the territory – there were 55. In 2015, 82; in 2016, 85, and in 2017, 177 murders.

In other words, in just five years – from 212 to 2017 – and despite the agents deployed, this community of only 130,000 inhabitants saw an increase in murders, clashes, and other violent acts by of 600%. Only from 2016 to 2017, exactly when the operation on the 50 communities was launched, the amount of murders increased by 108%. No other place in Mexico has seen such a drastic rise in murders as Chilapa, not even Tecomán, Colima, the community with the highest rate of deaths in 2017.

Chilapa is one of those communities that are – or were – eaten away day after day by crime. In 2017, the number of murders in Mexico broke records: 25,339 cases. The number of lost lives doesn't lie. It's time to change the strategy against drug trafficking.

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