Even if the numbers may be shifting in his favor, Mexico's new president hasn't been talking much about violence.
Right before he took office, Pena Nieto began a trip to the United States in November saying that ties between the neighboring nations must go beyond the drug war.
In Mexico now, the once-common government press conferences presenting high-profile cartel captures seem to be a thing of the past.
"There's a belief that they have that the criminal groups do sort of take advantage of the media and the attention in order to create fear, basically, and therefore space to act with impunity," Wilson said. "So the government decided deliberately they won't parade recently arrested criminals in front of the cameras."
That's a marked change from his predecessor, Calderon, who announced a crackdown on cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006. The war on drugs became a hallmark of his presidency, and the death toll from drug-related violence during his tenure had soared to more than 47,500 when the government stopped releasing updated figures in early 2012 -- his last year in office. In farewell speeches, Calderon noted that 25 of Mexico's 37 most wanted criminals had been apprehended on his watch.
"The government of Pena Nieto is trying not to talk about the issue of violence," said Chabat. "It's a strategy to change perceptions."
The reason is clear, said George W. Grayson, who studied Mexico's ruthless Zetas cartel for his 2012 book "The Executioner's Men."
"You don't want to talk about your crazy aunt in the attic. ... They want to shift the narrative," he said.
On the campaign trail last year, Pena Nieto vowed to reduce violence and said he'd take a different tack -- an election promise that played well with voters in a country weary of a drug war with a growing body count.
But two months into his six-year presidency, analysts say it's still unclear how he'll accomplish that goal.
"What he wants to crack down on are kidnappings, extortion, what's more likely to affect average people. There's been no secret that he wants to move in that direction and use more of a scalpel than a broad sword in combating the cartels," Grayson said, "and he seems to have sent a subliminal message to the cartels saying that if you just conduct your business and don't disturb civilians, we're not going to ignore you, but you're not a top priority."
Pena Nieto has stressed that fixing social and economic problems will foster peace in Mexico, and he's made some security policy shifts. He started his term by eliminating the public safety ministry and placing the federal police it once controlled under the interior ministry's power.
He's also discussed a plan to divide the country into regions to tackle security problems and to create a new national gendarmerie force, which could eventually send Mexico's military out of the streets and back into their barracks.
But the time frame for those changes is uncertain. And in the meantime, discussing violence less doesn't make the longstanding systemic problems fueling it go away, Chabat said.
"It is important for any government to talk about other topics, like the economy. But you can't negate what is happening, what people are still experiencing," he said.
'We are left with no other choice'
In some areas of Mexico, residents are tired of waiting for the government to step in to solve their problems.
"What we are seeing in a lot of parts of the country is a vacuum of the state ... and the proliferation of private security corps, of paramilitary groups," Chabat said. Incidents like the tourist attack in Guerrero will only do more to promote that approach, Chabat said, noting that it raises worrying concerns about abuses by vigilantes taking the law into their own hands.
"The government is overcome. ... That's the tragedy," he said. "There is no short-term solution."
As word of this week's rape allegations in Acapulco spread, a group of people in one nearby neighborhood took a vote on Tuesday.