Mexico slams Syria comparisons


The Mexican government panned a report that rated the country as the world’s second-deadliest conflict zone, after Syria.

President Trump re-tweeted a link to the report early Wednesday.



The Mexican Foreign Relations and Interior Secretariats later released a joint statement questioning the methodology of the report, published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

The Armed Conflict Survey 2017 report estimated the death toll from Mexico’s drug war in 2016 to be 23,000, second worldwide to the 50,000 estimated to have been killed in Syria’s civil war.

The next two deadliest conflicts were in Afghanistan, with 17,000 dead, and Iraq, with 16,000.

The report, and the media attention it received, struck a blow to the Mexican government’s campaign to tout the country’s rule of law.

Mexico questioned the comparison between a drug war in which police with help from the military are fighting organized criminal operations, and arenas of modern warfare.

“The existence of criminal groups is not a sufficient criterion to speak of a non-international armed conflict. Neither is the use of the Armed Forces to maintain order in the interior of the country,” the two secretariats said in the unsigned statement. 

Antonio Sampaio, a research associate at IISS, said the level of conflict in Mexico and Central America’s Northern Triangle — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — merited their inclusion. 

“In all four countries, criminal groups have ambitious territorial claims: they fight amongst themselves and use arms to challenge the state directly for local control,” said Sampaio.

According to Sampaio, murder rates in Mexico creeped back to their peak 2011 levels in 2016.

The Mexican government didn’t dismiss the claim that murder rates had risen, but said the official estimate for 2016 has not yet been released by the country’s statistical bureau.

“The study also makes an unbelievable assumption by considering all homicides in Mexico as ‘related to combat with criminal organizations,’” it said.

The government also pointed to Mexico’s relatively low murder rate per 100,000 people, as compared to other Latin American countries.

“Countries like Honduras, Venezuela, Belize, Colombia or Brazil have murder rates per 100 thousand inhabitants of 90.4, 44.7, 30.8 and 25.2 respectively, while Mexico registered a rate of 16.4 [in 2014],” read the release.

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