Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dangerous Towns

A new report from the Mexican NGO Citizen Council for Public Security and Justice lists the world's most dangerous cities (according to murder rate), and has Mexican metropolises occupying a quarter of the spots. Juárez, not surprisingly, is the world's most dangerous city, according to the Citizen's Council. Other cities appearing on the list include Chihuahua (fifth most dangerous worldwide), Mazatlán (eighth), Culiacán (ninth), Tepic (13), Durango (14), Torreón (17), Tijuana (21), Acapulco (23), Reynosa (34), Nuevo Laredo (36), and Cuernavaca (38).

While no one would doubt the main thrust (Mexico has problems with murders), the specifics of this report seem dubious. One obvious tipoff is the murder rate of 118 per 100,000 in Caracas, when some reports put the figure at more than twice that. Another red flag is that Gómez Palacio, which was significantly more violent than its sister city Torreón does not appear on the list, yet Torreón does. More broadly, the group pegs the number of murders, including those that have nothing to do with organized crime, across the country at around 25,000 for 2010, which would amount to murder rate of 23 or so. That's high, but significantly lower than Central American nations like Guatemala and El Salvador, as well as South American countries like Venezuela, Colombia, and Brazil, among others. Yet Mexico still has a quarter of the most dangerous cities, according to this report. Considering that Mexico's population, relative to that of the countries with higher murder rates, isn't that large, that just doesn't add up.

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