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Mexico’s Record-Setting Homicides, Slugglish Economy Test AMLO

Jose Orozco

(Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s homicides in August show the nation remains on pace to break last year’s record, while a national poll showed President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s approval falling as the economy teeters on the brink of a technical recession.

Murders rose 3.3% in the first eight months of the year to 23,063 from 22,316 last year, according to government data released Friday. The August toll rose to 2,966 from 2,954 in the same month a year ago. The uptick is unsettling investors already uncertain about an economy now estimated by the central bank to grow 0.2%-0.7% this year, down from 0.8%-1.8% previously.

Along with being tired of corruption, voters lifted Lopez Obrador to victory in last year’s election over concerns about rising crime. And Lopez Obrador is taking the issue seriously: he meets with his security team at 6 a.m. to assess the latest crime numbers. His policy proposals focus on education and subsidies for youth, along with assigning tens of thousands of members of a new National Guard force to the most violent parts of the country.

Yet rising crime and an economy near recession are a risk to his still-considerable popularity and plans for a much-vaunted “transformation” of the country’s society and politics. Lopez Obrador’s approval rating fell to 61% from 66% in the second quarter of the year, according to a national GEA-ISA poll released this week. His disapproval rose to 30% from the previous poll’s 27%.

Mexico City, once a relative haven from the nation’s more grisly murders, saw homicides rise 6% to 1,112 through August from 1,050 last year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jose Orozco in Mexico City at jorozco8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ney Hayashi at ncruz4@bloomberg.net, Steve Geimann

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