Monday, March 14, 2011

Missing Context on Monterrey

This is from a Washington Post piece on Monterrey that ran last week:
Homicides in the city and the surrounding state of Nuevo Leon more than tripled last year, to 828, state prosecutors said, and January’s tally of 144 killings was the highest on record.
What the authors neglect to tell you is that there are some 4.6 million people in Nuevo León, and 828 killings amounts to a murder rate of 18 per 100,000. That's a relatively high number, but it's roughly equal to Tulsa's, less than Kansas City's, and about 1/15th of the corresponding figure for Juárez. It's not the sign of an area in which everyone risks their lives simply by living there.

A tripling of the murder rate, which promises to rise substantially again in 2011, is scary wherever you are, and the specific elements of the killings in Monterrey --i.e. police officers getting killed, running gun battles in the streets with assault rifles, et cetera-- makes it more worrying still. Plus, not everything can be measured in killings, and other elements of the drug war symptoms --extortion, kidnapping-- are making Monterrey far more dangerous than it used to be. But by offering the number of murders as evidence of chaos without the piece of context, the city comes across as a bigger, wealthier version of Juárez, which it is not.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just discovered your blog through Malcom Beith's. I am so glad I found you. Another of the few voices of reason and truth. I am a nationalized Mexican, Gringa, living in Patzcuaro. It is hard to find real news through the usual channels. We are suffering here due to the giant drop in tourism (both from the US and from Mexico). Also we no longer have the expected number of ex-pats (baby boomers)retiring/relocating to central Mexico. At one time this reverse migration was expected to contribute greatly to local economies throughout Mexico. All of this suffering is due to the "yellow journalism" up north and sensationalized press here in country. What you write... your analyses, these sorts of stories... using clear thinking and FACTS and LOGIC are so important for tourism in the country. We need to combat the fear, the wrong perception. We are being destroyed by PERCEPTIONS that are completely fear-based. I for one understand that there are serious problems and don't want to hide the true picture BUT let's put it into perspective PLEASE. And nothing will get better till the economy improves.. JOBS for the people, and the tourism sector is one source of decent jobs.