Murer rates increased dramatically in countries like Honduras

A new United Nations report has found Latin America is the only region in the world where overall homicide rates increased between 2000 and 2010, with the violence rates recorded reflecting changes in drug trafficking and the region's underworld.

Latin America and the Caribbean saw more than one million total homicide victims during the decade, according to the 2013-2014 UN Regional Human Development Report (pdf) released November 12. While homicide rates in other regions decreased by as much as 50 percent, in Latin America rates rose by 12 percent.

Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Venezuela all had homicide rates of over 30 per 100,000 residents in the most recent year with available statistics, while Mexico, Brazil, Panama, Ecuador, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic had rates of over 10 per 100,000.

Homicide rates in many Latin American countries stabilized or even slightly decreased from 2005 to 2011, but a few outliers accounted for the overall rise. Honduras' homicide rate rose steeply, from significantly under 50 per 100,000 in 2005 to 86 per 100,000 in 2011, according to a UN official, while El Salvador's fluctuated between 50 and 75 in those years, before dropping sharply in 2012. Murder rates also rose during much of the time period in Mexico, Panama, Argentina and Bolivia.

InSight Crime Analysis

murder

The rising homicide rates in Latin America are inextricably linked to organized crime and the drug trade. Over the time period studied, the sharpest rises* were recorded in Mexico, where rates sky rocketed after 2007, and Central America, where the homicide rate nearly doubled. In Mexico, the rise coincides with then President Felipe Calderon's frontal assault against the drug cartels, while in Central America it tallies with changes in trafficking routes, with the region now the principal route for cocaine moved into the United States. Some of the region's traditionally less violent countries, such as Argentina and Bolivia, also posted significant rises that cooincide with their increasing importance to drug trafficking groups.

However, it is not transnational drug trafficking alone that contributes to rising violence. The last decade has also seen street gangs such as Central America's maras expand their influence, which, as shown in El Salvador, are the principal drivers of violence in some countries. Many countries have also witnessed an explosion in violent criminal networks focused on lucrative domestic crimes such as micro-trafficking, extortion and kidnappingMeanwhile, ongoing guerrilla and insurgent movements in countries including Colombia, Peru, Paraguay and Mexico have also continued to fuel violence.

A detailed breakdown of Venezuela, which has a dire lack of reliable violence statistics but is known to have exceedingly high murder rates, was absent from the report.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

As it tends to happen in Honduras, the news began as a well-heeled rumor: Javier Rivera Maradiaga, the oldest of the three Rivera Maradiaga brothers still alive and leader of the feared and powerful Honduran drug trafficking group known as the Cachiros, had handed himself in to...

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

By the end of 1993, Pablo Escobar was cornered. The cocaine king -- known as "El Patrón" -- was running out of money and options. His top assassins were either dead or had turned themselves in. Almost all of the senior members of the Medellín Cartel were...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Like any arm of the justice system, the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG) had its battles with elites who used their charm and their muscle to try to influence what and who the celebrated commission...

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Organized crime is not an abstract concept for me. I grew up in Oak Park, a leafy suburb of Chicago with a population of about 60,000. In general, it was a very low crime city, which is perhaps why many mobsters made their homes there, among them...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

In the northwest corner of Guatemala, a little known criminal organization known as the "Huistas" dominates the underworld, in large part due its ties with businessmen, law enforcement officials and politicians.

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Rodrigo Tovar Pupo never imagined it would come to this: dressed in an orange jumpsuit in a Washington DC courtroom and standing in front of a United States federal judge, the grandson of a wealthy Colombian cattle rancher and nephew to a governor was facing a possible...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala is Central America’s most populous country and its largest economy. But an intransigent elite, an ambitious military and a weak state has opened the way for organized crime to flourish, especially since the return of democracy.

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

This project defines organized crime as: a structured group of people that associate on a regular and prolonged basis to benefit from illicit activities and illegal markets. This group can be local, national or transnational in nature, and its existence is maintained using violence and threats; corruption...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

On the morning of April 5, 1988, Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros left his palatial Tegucigalpa estate for a jog. Matta Ballesteros was wanted for murder, drug trafficking and other crimes in several countries, but in Honduras he felt safe. He regularly hosted parties for high-level officials at...