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Column 012516 Wall

Monday, January 25, 2016

Looking at Mexico's Latest Homicide Stats and those of others in the Americas

By Allan Wall

In a new year, Mexican homicide statistics from the previous year are published.

It’s a grisly business, examining statistics representing real people who were homicide victims.

Hopefully, patterns can be found in these morbid statistics, knowledge of which could be used to reduce homicides.

First, let’s look at the ten Mexican states with the highest homicide rates in 2015.  (If you need to consult a map showing Mexico’s states, click here.)  The data source is Mexico’s Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública:

1.     Guerrero                     51.12 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

2.     Sinaloa                       30.36 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

3.     Chihuahua                 23.8 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

4.     Morelos                     23.17 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

5.     Baja California           21.87 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

6.     Baja California Sur    19.11 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

7.     Colima                       18.8 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

8.     Oaxaca                       17.2 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

9.     Sonora                       16.47 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

10.  Michoacan                15.01 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

The informative website InSight Crime has published its Latin American 2015 Homicide Round-up.  There were twenty nations on the list, including Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, which is often considered as a separate entity for statistical purposes.

The twenty nations include all the hemisphere’s independent Spanish-speaking countries (with the exception of Cuba), plus Puerto Rico (an autonomous Spanish-speaking U.S. territory), Portuguese-speaking Brazil, and Jamaica (which has English as its official language).

The Central American nation of El Salvador replaced Honduras to have the highest murder rate in the region, the most violent country in the Western Hemisphere.  Mexico had the tenth-highest murder rate.  

The calculations are based on homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.  The figure for the U.S.A. is 3.8 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, for Canada it’s 1.4.

Here is the list as complied by Insight Crime.  Note there are two tied countries, Costa Rica and Panama, in 11th place; and Nicaragua, Paraguay and Uruguay have a three-way tie for 14th place:

1.     El Salvador                103 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

2.     Venezuela                  90 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

3.     Honduras                   57 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

4.     Jamaica                     45 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

5.     Guatemala                 30 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

6.     Brazil                         26 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

7.     Colombia                   25 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

8.     Dominican Rep.        17 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

9.     Puerto Rico               16 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

10.  Mexico                     13 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

11. Costa Rica                11 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

11. Panama                     11 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

13. Argentina                  9 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

14. Nicaragua                 8 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

14. Paraguay                   8 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

14. Uruguay                    8 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

17. Peru                          7 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

18. Ecuador                     6 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

19. Bolivia                      5 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

20. Chile                         3 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants

A Central American country which wasn’t included was Belize, with a homicide rate of 45.1 per 100,000.

To see the Insight Crime Homicide Round-up (with specific information about each country) click here.

In the Honduras section, it reports that “Notably, cases of multiple homicides – which are closely associated with organized crime-related violence – increased in 2015 even as the overall murder rate fell.”

Murder rates in Jamaica, Brazil, Costa Rica and Uruguay increased from the previous year, while the statistics in Guatemala, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Panama showed decreases.

Here’s what Insight Crime specifically reported about Mexico: “Following four years of declining homicides, Mexico is expected to end 2015 with a slight uptick in murders. The Executive Secretary of the National System for Public Security (Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública - SESNSP) recorded 17,055 homicides through the first 11 months of 2015 for a homicide rate of 12.9 per 100,000 residents, according to Animal Politico. The embattled state of Guerrero finished with a homicide rate more than four times the national average, while Mexico City experienced one of its worst years for violence since the mid-1990s.”

The U.S. State Department has a “Mexico Travel Warning,” which I have found to be useful and balanced, and it has just been updated.  Click here for that.

NOTE: I was recently a guest on Silvio Canto Jr.’s Canto Talk show, and we discussed Donald Trump and Mexico, Mexico City traffic, the latest capture of Mexican drug lord Chapo Guzman (and his previous encounter with Sean Penn), and my latest trip to Mexico.  You can listen to the interview here.

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Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.  His website is located at http://www.allanwall.info.

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