Caracas is now the world's most violent city

Venezuela's capital city of Caracas has reportedly overtaken Honduras' San Pedro Sula to become the most violent city in the world, marking a shifting dynamic in homicide rates in Latin America's urban centers.

The year 2014 saw the city of Caracas hold the title of most violent city in the world, according to the annual ranking of the world's 50 most violent cities published by the Mexican non-governmental organization the Citizen's Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice (Consejo Ciudadano para la Seguridad Pública y la Justicia Penal - CCSPJP).

Caracas' homicide rate rose slightly from about 116 per 100,000 people in 2014 to about 120 in 2015 -- or 3,946 murders in a city of almost 3.3 million inhabitants. At the same time, in the city of San Pedro Sula in Honduras -- which had topped the list consistently from 2011 until last year -- the murder rate fell from about 170 in 2014 to 111 in 2015.

 

The Salvadoran capital San Salvador was third in the ranking (with a murder rate of about 108), while Acapulco, Mexico was fourth (105), and Maturin, Venezuela was fifth (86).

SEE ALSO:  Coverage of Homicides

The top 50 ranking included 21 cities in Brazil, eight in Venezuela, five in Mexico, three in Colombia and two in Honduras. El Salvador, Guatemala and Jamaica had one city each. Latin America accounted for 41 out of 50 cities.

Colombian and Mexican cities boasted the biggest reductions in homicides, while San Salvador displayed the largest increase. The capital's murder rate skyrocketed 77.3 percent from 61.21 per 100,000 in 2014 to 108.54 in 2015.

Also noteworthy are the exits of former Medellín, Colombia, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, from the list. Juárez was number one in the world between 2008 and 2010, while Medellín ranked as the world's most violent city throughout most of the 1990s, when its murder rate surpassed 300 per 100,000.

InSight Crime Analysis

Latin American cities have dominated the world ranking since the CCSPJP started releasing its global murder rate list five years ago. However, the shift in positions over the past year reflect both the deteriorating security situation and the stark improvements displayed by certain countries throughout the region.

The rising murder rate in Caracas -- which was at 98.71 in 2011 -- appears to be the symptom of nationwide political and economic chaos and sky-high crime, which has reportedly given rise to heavily armed "mega gangs."

SEE ALSO:  Venezuela News and Profiles

Despite worrying statistics, the turmoil faced by the country's longstanding socialist regime -- including recent National Assembly elections in which the opposition won a majority, a shortage of goods, and the imminent risk of hyperinflation -- appears to have detracted attention from effectively tackling crime. A recent attempt to fight gang crime in Caracas led to protests and claims of extortion and robbery by security forces.            

Although San Salvador has notably risen into the CCSPJP's top ten for the first time, this is no surprise given the critical violence levels that made El Salvador the most violent country on the planet last year. The breakdown of a 2012 gang truce has since caused the national murder rate -- estimated to be 104.2 per 100,000 -- to reach its highest level since El Salvador's bloody civil war ended in 1992.

SEE ALSO:  El Salvador News and Profiles

Former murder capitals Juárez and Medellín are now reportedly safer that the US cities of Baltimore, St. Louis, Detroit and New Orleans, which appear in the CCSPJP's top 50. Medellín's turnaround forms part of a broader trend of declining violence in Colombia in recent years. Still, the city's exit from the list may have more to do with developments in the criminal underworld than with any government policy, given the 2013 truce between criminal organizations Oficina de Envigado and the Urabeños.

In Juárez, too, the fall in crime may be more attributable to the end of a vicious turf war between the Sinaloa Cartel and the Juárez Cartel, rather than government policy.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
Prev Next

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power.

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

In May 2011, a 26-year-old prison gang leader held 4,000 members of the Venezuelan security forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, at bay for weeks. Humiliated nationally and internationally, it pushed President Hugo Chávez into a different and disastrous approach to the prison system.