The arrival of a new year is accompanied by new murder statistics from the previous year in Mexico. It is a grisly tally, to be sure. One can always hope it will be lower than the previous year. Sadly, that didn’t occur this past year.
As reported by CNN, “Soaring levels of drug-related violence made 2017 Mexico’s most murderous year on record, according to government statistics released Sunday [January 21st]. There were 25,339 homicides in Mexico last year, a 23% jump from 2016 and the highest number since at least 1997, the year the government began tracking the data. Overall, murders in Mexico had been declining in recent years, reaching a low of 15,520 in 2014. But officials say a surge in drug-related crime reversed that trend.” (From Mexico reports highest murder rate on record, Patrick Gillespie, CNN, January 22, 2018).
The Mexican state with the highest murder rate was Colima with 89 homicides per 100,000, while Mexico’s overall national rate is 19.5 homicides per 100,000 people.
Guerrero was in second place. According to CNN, in the Mexican state of Guerrero, “murders rose to 2,316 last year, about the same as 2016, but up from 1,514 in 2014. In Sinaloa, the former turf of notorious, imprisoned drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, homicides in 2017 soared 39% over last year to 1,332. In Baja California Sur, an area with popular tourist destinations such as Cabo San Lucas, the number of murders nearly tripled last year to 560.”
This is all very disturbing, to be sure.
In more bad news, journalists are at risk in Mexico. As reported by CNN’s Gillespie: “The country [Mexico] has also become — outside of the world’s war zones — one of the most dangerous places for journalists. Last year six journalists were killed in Mexico, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a US nonprofit. That was the highest number since at least 1992. Since that year more than 40 journalists have been killed in the country.”
Mexico has a real violence problem, which is prominent in the U.S. media. However, it is also important to put things into a regional context.
The InsightCrime website published an article entitled 2017 Homicide Rates in Latin America and the Caribbean (Tristan Clavel, InsightCrime, January 19, 2018). In this article, Clavel reports that “Mexico’s murder rate is relatively low in a regional context….”
That might be surprising, but it’s backed up by statistics. Other countries have higher murder rates than Mexico, but their violence is reported on less frequently in the U.S. media.
Clavel demonstrates his assertion. Here is Clavel’s list of the murder rates of twenty regional countries:
- Venezuela – 89 homicides per 100,000 people.
- El Salvador – 60 homicides per 100,000 people.
- Jamaica – 55.7 homicides per 100,000 people.
- Honduras – 42.8 homicides per 100,000 people.
- Brazil – 29.7 homicides per 100,000 people.
- Guatemala – 26.1 homicides per 100,000 people.
- Colombia – 24 homicides per 100,000 people.
- Puerto Rico – 19.7 homicides per 100,000 people.
- Mexico – 19.5 homicides per 100,000 people.
- Dominican Republic – 14.9 homicides per 100,000 people.
- Costa Rica – 12.1 homicides per 100,000 people.
- Panama – 10.2 homicides per 100,000 people.
- Paraguay – 9.8 homicides per 100,000 people.
- Bolivia – 8.5 homicides per 100,000 people.
- Uruguay – 7.8 homicides per 100,000 people.
- Peru – 7.7 homicides per 100,000 people.
- Nicaragua – 7 homicides per 100,000 people.
- Argentina – 6 homicides per 100,000 people.
- Ecuador – 5.8 homicides per 100,000 people.
- Chile – 3.3 homicides per 100,000 people.
As can be clearly seen in the list, Mexico has the 9th highest murder rate in the region, certainly way too high, but below eight other Latin American countries (including autonomous U.S. territory Puerto Rico).
As for the Mexican figure of 19.5 homicides per 100,000 people, that was calculated based on murders committed from January to November of 2017.
The fact that eight Latin American countries had higher murder rates than Mexico is really no consolation for Mexico. But it does indicate that high murder rates in these countries are a regional problem.
By Allan Wall
MexiData.info note: For USA statistics and projections, see “Crime In 2017: A Preliminary Analysis,” The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law
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