Mexico City (CNSNews.com) – Mexican citizens are calling for stepped up policing in response to rising crime in downtown Mexico City.
Robberies targeting people in the street in the capital’s downtown were 1,651 percent above the national average from May to August this year, according to an analysis of official government crime statistics by the citizens’ crime watchdog group Observatorio Nacional Ciudadano.
The rate of pedestrian robberies in the downtown area known as Delegacion Cuauhtemoc was 425 per 100,000 inhabitants. The national average was 24.
The 12 square-mile zone in the heart of the city includes the Historic District, Reforma Avenue with its office towers and government buildings, and tree-lined neighborhoods filled with restaurants and bars and popular with foreigners, tourists, and young people.
Analysis by the citizens’ group also shows that from May to August the Cuauhtemoc zone had the highest rate of violent robberies in the entire city, nearly twice the national average of 64 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Citywide, violent robberies increased by 64.4 percent and robberies of pedestrians shot up 58.5 percent between May and August of this year compared to the same period a year ago.
The rate of business robberies in Cuauhtemoc and the neighboring zone of Benito Juarez to the south was six times the national average of 24 per 100,000 inhabitants for the period.
Slightly more than half a million people live in Cuauhtemoc, but its businesses, government offices and historic attractions draw more than 1.5 million visitors and workers daily, according to city authorities.
The watchdog group’s director, Francisco Rivas, says the high levels of commercial activity may pose a target, but he mostly blames poor policing for the downtown’s expanding crime problem.
“Cuauhtemoc has always been one of the more dangerous parts of the city, but the authorities are not succeeding in attacking the problem and it is increasing.”
The murder rate in Mexico City is also on the rise. The city has the second highest homicide rate nationally, at nine murders per 100,000 inhabitants from January to September this year according to Marcela Figueroa, a researcher with the citizens’ group Causa en Comun.
Nationally the murder rate has been increasing since 2015, she said.
Rivas also drew attention to the high use of guns in crimes in the capital.
Across Mexico, a gun is used in six out of every 10 crimes. In Mexico City the rate is seven out of 10, and guns are used in 60 percent of all robberies, he said – “much higher than it was five, or even ten years ago.”
He also called for police to crack down on well-known markets where stolen goods are sold.
Dangerous crime in Mexico’s coastal tourism resort areas of Los Cabos and Cancun prompted the State Department to update its travel advisory for Mexico last August, warning of high homicide rates and that bystanders have been injured in gun battles between criminal groups in the daylight hours.
The updated advisory contains no warnings regarding Mexico City, however.
Mexico City’s homicide rate remains much lower than that of Chicago, where there were 785 murders per 100,000 inhabitants in 2016, as reported by the Chicago Tribune last September.