Dudley Althaus, Houston Chronicle, May 4, 2011
For anyone dreaming of an imminent end to the criminal bloodbath tormenting Mexico, April was perhaps the cruelest month.
More than 1,400 gangland killings were clocked, by one newspaper’s count, giving April the highest death toll of the 53 months since President Felipe Calderon unleashed the military and federal police against the country’s crime syndicates. The toll includes more than 300 bodies pulled from mass graves near the South Texas border and in other northern Mexican states.
Many of the graves’ victims were killed weeks, even months earlier. Still, nearly 40 people a day were slain last month, according to Milenio, the newspaper that tallied the 1,402 deaths. In April’s last week alone, gunmen abducted 11 city police officers, including the force’s chief, in a Monterrey suburb.
As the crackdown slogs into a fifth year and the body count ticks toward 40,000, opinion polls suggest a growing legion of Mexicans share Fox’s frustration. Thousands of Mexicans are expected to march Sunday in Mexico City and elsewhere to demand an end to the violence.
Determining which killings are linked to organized crime is often more an art than a science. Milenio’s tally has not been confirmed by the Mexican government. But such media counts in recent years have proved to be low when the government later released its own figures.
Government officials argue the violence primarily is between gangland rivals, though civilians have increasingly fallen victim to both criminals and security forces.
As they long have been, the killings tallied in April were mostly concentrated in a handful of states on the U.S. border and in the Pacific coast states of Guerrero and Sinaloa, Milenio reported.