MEXICO CITY – Violence cost Mexico the equivalent of 18 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016, a year when the homicide rate rose, the 2017 Mexico Peace Index report said Tuesday.
The cost of the violence amounted to 25,000 pesos ($1,335) per person last year, Mexican Institute for the Economy and Peace coordinator Patricia de Obeso told EFE.
The violence is "a tax on the country's security" that all citizens pay and that comes to more than a month of pay for the average Mexican worker, De Obeso said.
The cost is even higher in states like Colima, where it came to 66,500 pesos ($3,555) and Guerrero, where it totaled 53,600 pesos ($2,865) per capita, the researcher said.
The reports author's factored direct costs, such as government spending on the armed forces and business spending on security, and indirect costs, including the effect of crime on public perceptions and the loss of a breadwinner for a family.
Society must decide "if the investment we've made in the past 10 years in directly fighting drug trafficking ... in containing violence, has really had an impact" or whether citizens must ask themselves "what we should be investing in to improve the level of peace," De Obeso said.
Social peace, according to the institute, fell 4.3 percent in 2016 and had been flat in the two prior years, with no progress or reverses.
Last year, the homicide rate rose 18 percent to 16.7 per 100,000 inhabitants, "dragging Mexico's peace levels down," De Obeso said.
Vigilante groups in Mexico have given the federal government a very public headache, since they're violent yet ultimately have the same goal in mind: to take away power from the cartels.
Mexico's peace levels, as defined by the institute, were still almost 14 percent better than in 2011, when drug-related violence reached its peak during former President Felipe Calderon's war on the country's cartels.
Some 60 percent of the homicides in Mexico are committed with guns, with "the issue of firearms drawing attention to the black market for arms that exists mainly in the United States," the institute said.
De Obeso noted that there was "no way to know for sure based on science or with official statistics" what percentage of murders was related to organized crime groups.