Saturday, August 28, 2010


It's interesting how much of the recent media uproar about Monterrey has been that this is the nation's second city, not some border backwater. For instance, here's an editorial from El Universal from a couple of weeks ago:
The second most important city in the country, the central nervous system of our national industry, is at the breaking point, on the border between civility and barbarism. If Monterrey falls, has Ciudad Juárez and Reynosa have, the country will be one step away from doing so as well.


In less than two years, Monterrey went from occasional violence in poor neighborhoods to narco-blockades across the city, grenades thrown at local media outlets, and kidnapping of public officials at the doors of their houses.
One unwritten subtext is that if it can happen in Monterrey, it could happen in Mexico City as well, which is a worry that periodically crops up among the national media. I know Monterrey has had a lot of violent episodes this year, but I'd be interested to see some hard data about how much more violent it really is this year. (Diego Valle?) It could be that just a few spectacular episodes are making the city seem much more out of control than it really is. I also think the degree to which this is recent is a bit exaggerated; I remember having a long talk with someone in Monterrey in 2007 about the explosion of violence.

Update: Diego Valle says in comments that indeed the spike has been both sudden and extreme.


Diego said...

The homicide rate in Nuevo León used to be between 4 and 6. So far this year there have been 509 murders, that would translate to a homicide rate for the whole year of 25-30, equivalent to Washington DC and much lower than Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango or Baja California.

Noel Maurer said...

Shee-it, Diego, that's an astounding leap. Mind boggling. A leap in violence from the sleepy New York of 1960 to the hyperviolent city of 1990, compressed into one year.

I'd add the narcobloqueos have taken the challenge to the Mexican state to a entirely new level. Sort of like the squeegee men, but plus several orders of magnitude.

There has to be a solution.

pc said...

Thanks Diego. When was the Nuevo Leon rate 4 to 6 per year? Was that all in one year? Whatever the case, indeed a significant leap.

The bloqueos are weird, I dont know what to make of them. I mentioned at some point that they were said to have an operational goal when they were first cropping up, ie making it harder for the army to race across town. But it seems more than anything just like a way to kick the government in the kneecap now.

Paul Roberts said...

Just anecdotal evidence but a good Mexican friend I have who has good friends in Monterrey told me that it used to be that few people in that city had been involved in problems with the narcos but now it seems that anyone you talk to has someone in their family or knows someone who has had problems.

If this true, I think this is a serious escalation of the problems. One thing that sustains me living in Ciudad Guzman, Jalisco is that although there have been incidents here, so far I don't know anyone who has been personally effected. Now if all my friends started having stories to tell, I think the climate would change dramatically.

malcolm beith said...

this is the best story i've read about the decline of monterrey. throw the renegade Zetas into the mix, and you have one disastrous melting pot.

pc said...

Thanks for the tip...

Anonymous said...

Keeping in mind that there's always some difference between the INEGI and police numbers, 4-6 would be the range for the years 2006-2009. The incredible rise in murders started somewhere between late February and early March 2010