Mexico homicide rate edges up in 2019; rate of rise slows

Mexico homicide rate edges up in 2019; rate of rise slows
FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2019 file photo, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador listens to questions during his daily morning press conference at the National Palace in Mexico City. Shortly before taking office Lopez Obrador decided to create an army of volunteers dubbed the “servants of the nation,” to canvass people who receive government benefits collecting their personal information in part to see if they might be eligible for yet more help from various programs promised during the campaign for the likes of farmers, the disabled, unemployed youth and the elderly. The effort alarmed opposition political parties who saw it as an attempt to illegally use public funds to promote López Obrador and his leftist Morena party. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The number of homicides in Mexico rose to 35,588 in 2019, but the rate of annual increase in murders has slowed, according to government figures.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has said crime and violence are the toughest challenges he faces. But on Tuesday, he said corruption is the country's main problem.

López Obrador said that white collar criminals have done more damage to Mexico than the drug cartels responsible for many of the killings.

“We are giving the almost the same weight to (fighting) white collar crime, as we do to drug cartels,” López Obrador said.

There were 933 more murders in Mexico in 2019 than in 2018, but that 2.7% increase was well below the double-digit growth in killings in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

In those years, homicides grew by annual rates of 27%, 28% and 17%, respectively.

While it is not clear what percentage of homicides are related to drug gang violence, the fact that those gangs have expanded into extortion and kidnapping makes them Mexico's main single source of violence.

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