Is Washington DC a more dangerous place than Mexico City?by Hugh Holub on Aug. 04, 2010, under border issues, mexico
Interesting article in today’s Arizona Republic that suggests even with the drug cartel violence, the murder rate in Mexico isn’t as bad as many believe.
Wahington DC is a more dangerous place as far as murder rates go than Mexico City.
A distinction that ought to be considered…there’s murder and then there are killings associated with a power struggle.
Though the murder rate in many US cities is actually higher than in Mexican cities, we don’t have mass killings to make a political statement or efforts to actually take over control of the cities. Some Mexican cities like Juarez has the kind of killings that are clearly aimed at destroying their police department and political structure that runs that city.
Whatever the statistical muder rate may be, there is a world of difference when a bunch of thugs armed with automatic weapons is trying to seize control of cities, towns and even states.
It isn’t just a “murder” issue. It is about a war with casualties.
If we had what amounts to an armed rebellion going on in the US, imagine what our response would be.
Mexico discounts the danger of having a revolutionary army funded by drug profits growing in its midst. Given the amount of druyg money flowing south, it may already be the case that the drug cartel forces are better armed than the Mexican Army.
Bloodshed in Mexico not as bad as in 1990s
by Chris Hawley – Aug. 4, 2010 12:00 AM
Republic Mexico City Bureau
MEXICO CITY – Gruesome murders appear to be commonplace in Mexico. The severed heads of eight men found in pairs along highways in Durango. Seventeen people massacred at a birthday party in Torreon. The bodies of 55 people found dumped in a mine near the town of Taxco.
Mexicans and their American neighbors are being bombarded by news of shootouts, bombings, kidnappings and murders as drug smugglers battle each other and the government for control of the But a closer look at the latest crime statistics indicates that much of Mexico has modest murder rates. The horrific violence that is jacking up the country’s national death toll is occurring largely in nine of Mexico’s 31 states.
And despite a wave of killings in those states, the national murder rate in 2009 was still lower than it was a decade before, long before the Mexican government began its crackdown on the cartels.
“If you look at history, today we have fewer murders, both in raw numbers and rates,” said Mario Arroyo, a researcher with the Citizens’ Institute for Crime Studies, a Mexico City think tank.
Experts caution that murder statistics give only a narrow view of crime.
Mexico’s 2009 murder rate of 14 per 100,000 people was still more than twice as high as the U.S. rate of 5.4 in 2008, the latest year for which full U.S. statistics are available.
The numbers also do not reflect the increasingly macabre nature of Mexico’s drug killings as the cartels try to intimidate Mexicans. Bodies are dismembered or hung from bridges.
Mass shootings have become common as hit men hunt down their rivals at parties or drug-rehabilitation centers.
“There’s a disconnect between the statistics and the perception of the public,” said Elias Kuri, president of Light Up Mexico, an anti-crime association.
Mexico’s Public Safety Secretariat released the 2009 murder totals in July in response to a request by the Citizens’ Institute for Crime Studies. The institute used population data from the government’s National Population Council to calculate murder rates for each state.
How many of the murders are due to the drug war has been a matter of fierce debate. On Tuesday, the head of Mexico’s intelligence agency said that, from late 2006, when President Felipe Calderón launched a war on drugs, through this year, there have been 28,000 drug-related deaths. La Reforma newspaper, which keeps a running tally of drug deaths, counts 20,842 since the drug war began, with 6,587 taking place in 2009. Whether a murder was drug-related is often hard to determine because few murders in Mexico are ever solved, Arroyo said.
The government’s murder statistics from 2009 show:
• The most deadly state in Mexico was Chihuahua, the sparsely populated Texas and New Mexico border region where Juárez is located. It was followed by the marijuana- and heroin-producing states of Durango, Guerrero and Sinaloa.
• Sonora, the state bordering Arizona, saw its murder rate triple from 2002 to 2009, from seven to 20 per 100,000. But that’s still lower than in the late 1990s, when the rate was about 24.
• Six Mexican states had a lower murder rate than Arizona’s rate of 6.3 per 100,000 people in 2008. They include popular tourist destinations like Quintana Roo state, where Cancun is located, and Baja California Sur, where Cabo San Lucas is located.
• The state with the lowest murder rate is Yucatan, the Gulf of Mexico state known for its Mayan ruins. Its murder rate of two per 100,000 was comparable to the rate for Wyoming and Montana.
• The rate in Washington, D.C., was nearly quadruple that of the Mexican capital, Mexico City. Washington’s murder rate was 31.4 per 100,000 people in 2008; Mexico City’s rate in 2009 was eight.
Because the Mexican government released only statewide data and did not include a breakdown by city, it is difficult to know where the worst hot spots are.
Nevertheless, the numbers do give some credence to Calderón, who insists that the worst violence is confined to certain regions and is mostly among gang members. He has accused the news media of exaggerating the violence.
“We’ve got problematic cities, yes,” Calderón said in a speech in April. “But we also have areas and states, especially tourist areas, that have murder rates equal to many countries in Europe.”
Murders in Mexico had been dropping steadily, from 16,163 in 1997 to 10,291 in 2007, even as Mexico’s population grew. The murder rate sank from 17 to 10 per 100,000 people.
Part of the decline was due to Mexico’s stable economy, helped along by the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, Arroyo said.
That ended with Calderón’s crackdown, which has splintered the old drug cartels and led to infighting. Calderón said the offensive was needed because the cartels had infiltrated local governments and were threatening to become more powerful than the police.
From 2007 to 2009, the murder rate jumped from 10 to 14 per 100,000 people. That’s still low compared with countries like Brazil, which has a murder rate of 22, or Honduras, with 60.9.
“If you look at Mexico as a whole country, it’s really not as bad as other places,” said Jose Miguel Cruz, an expert on Latin American crime at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
Violence varies widely within some states. In Sonora, for example, separate murder statistics from the state government show killings are concentrated in Nogales and other border areas, along with southern towns near the Sinaloa line. Hermosillo, the state capital, had one of the lowest per capita murder rates in 2009 despite recording 46 murders.
The real question is whether Mexico can stop the recent upswing in violence, experts say.
In recent months, Mexican authorities have killed several drug lords, including Arturo Beltrán Leyva and Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel, and captured dozens of lower-level smugglers.
But the gangs also have gotten better at killing, carrying out sophisticated ambushes on police and experimenting with different techniques like car bombs.
“We’re seeing brutal violence, and in some states, it’s almost more than society can bear,” said Edna Jaime, director of Mexico Evaluates, another think tank in Mexico City. “Numbers are one thing . . . but what we don’t know is where this is all headed.”