Jan. 3 (UPI) -- There were more than 1,700 homicides in Mexico in December, about double what was reported in recent days by a newspaper providing its own estimate, according to Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and other officials.
While the president and officials initially said they were not ready to provide a number of homicides for December because a new mechanism to count the number was still being worked on, reporters were told there were more than 1,700 homicides in December, El Sol de Acapulco reported Thursday.
Alfonso Durazo, secretary of Security and Citizen Protection, rejected a journalist's request during a news conference to provide a number for homicides in December, saying a new system was still being worked on, because it involved putting together information from different agencies, in different regions, according to a video of the conference.
"What I can confirm is that the day before yesterday [Wednesday] there were 64, and yesterday 66," Durazo said. He also presented a table showing a trend that appeared to indicate declining averages during the month of December.
"We cannot yet provide a figure for the month [of December]. We have started with this compiling [system] on [December] 8. We are working with national figures. The information will be presented on the 20," he said during the conference, according to the recorded video.
He said that the number of reported homicides as estimated by Reforma, and updated Wednesday, is lower than reality, and assured that the the numbers published by the Mexican newspaper were incorrect.
Reforma newspaper estimated on Wednesday there were 887 homicides in December, saying the first month Lopez Obrador was in office was accompanied by an homicide increase of 65 percent from November.
Reforma on Thursday published a story asking the government to present statistics to compare with the tallies it carries out independently.
The newspaper also quoted Maria Elena Morera, president of a non-governmental organization named Common Cause, who said a rise in crime as reported by Reforma would not have come as a surprise because it was an ongoing trend, independently of who is president.
She criticized the government for putting down the independent efforts by Reforma to produce a figure for homicides without making one available, and urged the government to provide statistics as soon as possible.
According to a November report by ADN Politico, citing official figures it attributed to the Interior Ministry, as of October there were 24,022 homicides in Mexico in the first 10 months of the year, 3,406 more than in the previous year.
If the trend continued, projections were that the total toll for 2018 was going to exceed the 25,028 homicides in all of 2017, it said at the time.