SAN JUAN – The 104 homicides committed so far this year in Puerto Rico represent an increase of 24 percent over the same period in 2015, police said Monday.
Seven people were killed over the weekend on this island of 3.6 million.
Suicides are also on the rise, with 36 since Jan. 1, 38 percent more than at the same point last year, according to statistics from the Puerto Rico Police Department.
Authorities have noted a expansion in domestic violence that they suspect is connected to the social deterioration that has accompanied a decade-long recession, PRPD chief Jose Caldero said in a recent interview with EFE.
Traditionally, the drug trade has been the source of most of the violence in Puerto Rico, with young males making up the majority of murder victims.
Efforts to crack down on drugs were reflected in a steep decline in the number of homicides, which fell from a record 1,164 in 2011 to half that total last year.
“The murders that have happened in recent weeks have to do with family interaction,” Caldero said, adding that many killings are connected “with the people’s mental health and with lack of tolerance.”
Puerto Rico has an unemployment rate twice that of any U.S. state and has seen 10 percent of its population leave over the last 10 years.