AMLO’s misleading saying, lethality of the Army is higher than with EPN

The president of Mexico boasted with a graph in his morning conference a drop in the so-called fatality rate of military confrontations.

And while it is true that there is a lower level than in the time of Felipe Calderón, and that corporations such as the Navy and the National Guard also mark a lower level than in the past, the lethality of the Army under his command has been higher than that of Enrique Peña Nieto, according to figures from Sedena itself in its most recent response on the subject, on the transparency platform.

Besides, there are still clashes in Sedena where there are only deceased civiliansno detainees and no soldiers wounded or killed: at least 160 such episodes so far in his government, 18% of the total number of confrontations.

Just on April 6, such a case occurred, with 5 people or alleged aggressors dead in Mazamitla, Jalisco; another on March 30, in Nochistlán Zacatecas, with 5 civilians killed and no arrests; and one more on October 27, 2021, with 6 deaths in Nuevo Laredo, no military injuries and no captures.

Read: With AMLO, the Army mobilizes 80,000 elements for police work, a record number

From December 1, 2018 to April 2022, 689 civilians died as a result of clashes with the Army, both alleged aggressors and “victims”, and 166 were injured, indicated the Ministry of Defense.

This gives a case fatality ratio of 4.15 people killed for every one injured.

In Peña Nieto’s six-year term, 1,304 deaths and 335 injuries were recorded, which shows a index of 3.89.

The figure of 335 injured in said administration, which Sedena reported in its response via Transparency, contrasts with that of 254 that was included in the morning conference, considering that if the numbers of more corporations are added, the data should be higher.

The Army, in its responses, uses the categories of deceased and wounded “aggressors”, and that of “victims”, deceased and wounded.

If only the category of dead and wounded “aggressors” is used, López Obrador’s six-year term results in a lower fatality rate, from 5.19 to 5.3, although it is not specified which one they use, and analysis such as Intersects They chose to add both the categories of “aggressors” and “victims”.

Questions about its methodology were sent to Sedena, but until the publication of this note they had not responded.

On the graph presented by the government, another point stands out: They use a different formula to do their calculation. Instead of dividing the number of deaths by injuries, as organizations such as Intersecta, and international studies such as Lethal Force Monitor, They obtain their result by subtracting the sum of detainees and wounded from the total number of deaths.

This, as pointed out by an analysis of academics from CIDE, it’s misleading because: “it seems highly likely that people who have been injured in a confrontation have been arrested, unless the security forces do not arrest those who have been injured and still manage to account for them. Namely, adding detainees and wounded would mean counting the wounded twice, because the number of wounded should be contained in the number of detainees”.

In the government presentation, data from “Armed Forces and National Guard” are mixed, but in the case of previous six-year terms, it is not detailed which corporations are considered for the sum.

This graph from Lethal Force Monitor, with data up to 2020, shows how the Navy had by far the highest level of lethality in previous six-year terms, and how that of the Army rose in the first two years of López Obrador:

One more inconsistency in the government’s illustration is that in its sum of deceased for this six-year term, the data for December 2018, the first month of the López Obrador government, do not add up. In the Army data, there were at least 10 civilians killed in that month.

Another form of analysis is that of the proportion of civilians killed in clashes with the Army, compared to those detained. In that category, the index in this six-year term has been 1.12, lower than that of Peña Nieto (1.15), although only by three hundredths, and that of Felipe Calderón (1.2).

Regarding those killed in clashes in the Army, of the total in López Obrador’s six-year term until April 2022, 4.7% were military and 95% civilians. A higher proportion of deceased civilians, since in the Peña Nieto government they were 93%.

One last fact: in the first two years of Peña Nieto’s six-year term, 820 Army confrontations were registered, and in López Obrador’s, 524. 36% less.

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