How Widespread Is Violence In Mexico Really?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I’m not one for taking to heart the warnings of danger when traveling. From the overblown threat of pickpocketers in Barcelona to the unfounded warnings of imminent kidnapping the second one steps off the plane in Colombia, I often wonder whether these rumors of danger are often nothing more than a classic fear of the unknown. (I also take heart — if that’s how you want to put it — that the violent crime rate in my own neighborhood here in New York probably far exceeds most anywhere I choose to travel on the globe.)

That being said, danger does exist in certain countries — Mexico for example, where a very real organized crime problem is making certain northern states make Chicago in the ’20s look tame.

But why not take a look at the hard facts, as The Washington Post recently did, and examine how widespread the crime really is in Mexico?

Rodolfo Lopez-Negrete, chief operating officer of the Mexico Tourism Board, cites to the fact that crime is relatively limited to a small portion of the country (despite what you see on the news):

Of 2,500 municipalities (what we call counties), only 80, or fewer than 5 percent, have been affected by the drug war, which accounts for only 3 percent of all crime. Mexican cities are also safer than some urban centers north of the border: Mexico City, for example, has 8.3 homicides a year per 100,000 people. That’s fewer than Miami (14.1) and Chicago (16.1). On a global scale, Mexico is safer than many of its neighbors. In 2008, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported Mexico’s homicide rate as 11.6 per 100,000, significantly lower than Honduras (60.9), Jamaica (59.5) or El Salvador (51.8).

Something to keep in mind next time you’re somewhere like Miami. Come to think of it, last time I was in Miami I ended up at a club where Paris Hilton happened to be, which kind of made me wish I was in a gang-controlled Mexican state instead.

[El Zòcalo by borgodioria/Flickr]

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