Colima, the capital city of the western state of the same name, is facing a severe crisis of violence and insecurity. According to the Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice, Colima was the most violent city in the world in 2022, with a rate of 181.94 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants¹. This is the third highest rate since the council started ranking the 50 most violent cities in the world in 2009¹. Colima also topped the list in 2021, with a rate of 196.63 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants².
The situation has not improved in 2023. In the first month of the year, Colima registered 70 victims of intentional homicide, and 16 more until February 9¹. Among the victims were a university student who played American football, a doctor from the State Institute of Oncology, and a 16-year-old boy¹. The perpetrators of these crimes remain at large, as impunity and corruption plague the justice system.
The main cause of the violence in Colima is the dispute between rival drug cartels for the control of the territory and the smuggling routes to the United States. Colima is strategically located on the Pacific coast, with access to the port of Manzanillo, one of the most important in Latin America. The port is used by criminal groups to import precursor chemicals for synthetic drugs and to export cocaine and methamphetamine³.
According to a report by the US Congress, Colima is contested by at least four major cartels: Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), Sinaloa, Santa Rosa de Lima, and Cárteles Unidos³. These groups have unleashed a wave of violence that includes assassinations, kidnappings, extortions, robberies, and attacks on security forces. The local authorities have been unable to contain the situation, despite receiving federal support and resources.
The federal government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been criticized for its security policy, based on the slogan “hugs, not bullets”. The president has advocated for dialogue and social programs to address the root causes of violence while avoiding direct confrontation with the cartels. However, this strategy has not yielded positive results, as Mexico remains the country with the most violent cities in the world: 17 out of 50 in 2022¹.
Colima is an extreme example of the failure of this policy, as well as of the historical neglect and marginalization that affect many regions of Mexico. The citizens of Colima live in fear and despair while hoping for a change that seems distant and unlikely.
Source: El País