Mexico’s Violent Murder Rate Is More Than Twice That of USA

By Edwin Mora | November 12, 2010 | 3:45pm EST

A police tape, reading "Danger" in Spanish, encloses the area where a grenade was detonated by unidentified people, leaving at least 12 people injured, in front of the town hall in the municipality of Guadalupe, on outskirts of Monterrey in northern Mexico, on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Carlos Jasso)

( – Individuals run a greater risk of being violently murdered in Mexico than in the United States, where the population is more than three times larger than its southern neighbor.  

Mexico’s secretary of Interior, Francisco Blake Mora, said there currently are 12 violent homicides registered for every 100,000 Mexican residents, as reported in the Nov. 10  El Universal, a Spanish-language newspaper in Mexico.

In other words, about 1 in every 8,300 residents is violently murdered in Mexico.

In Mexico, as in the United States, a violent murder is differentiated from a “justifiable homicide,” such as may occur through self-defense or when a felon is killed by a police officer in the line of duty. Murder in Mexico, as in America, refers to the willful (non-negligent) killing of one human being by another.

FBI data show that in the United States, “There were 5.0 murders per 100,000 inhabitants in 2009, an 8.1 percent decrease from the 2008 rate.”

That means that in 2009 there was 1 murder per 20,000 U.S. inhabitants. When compared to Mexico’s current rate of 1 murder per 8,300 Mexican residents, an individual runs a greater risk of being violently murdered in Mexico than in the United States.

Yet the U.S. population is more than three times the size of Mexico’s.   According to the latest figures from Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography, there are 103, 263, 388 people in that country.

The U.S. Census Bureau says there are 310, 691, 181 people in the United States.

For the 15,241 people that were murdered in the United States in 2009, “More than 44 percent (44.8) of murders were reported in the South, the most populous region, with 21.3 percent reported in the West, 20.0 percent reported in the Midwest, and 13.9 percent reported in the Northeast,” according to the FBI.

When accounting for Mexico’s population of about 103.3 million and that country’s violent homicide rate of 1 murder for every 8,300 residents, calculated that there were an estimated 12,400 registered murders in Mexico in 2009.

Although Mexico’s violent homicide rate exceeds that of the United Sates in terms of homicides per residents, Mora pointed out that in countries such as Brazil and Colombia the murder rate per resident is much higher than in Mexico.

Mexico’s Secretary of Interior noted that in Colombia, for example, there are 30 homicides per resident, and that in some Central American countries that figure is higher, reaching 40 homicides per resident.

The population of Mexico dwarfs that of Colombia and all other Central American countries. Brazil’s population (191 million), however, exceeds that of Mexico, but not that of the United States.   

Brazil itself has a much higher [homicide] average than Mexico,” said Mora, but he added that law-and-order in Brazil “is very different” than in Mexico.

According to Mora, Mexico must combat organized crime in order to diminish it. The secretary of interior highlighted Mexico’s drugs and weapons seizures for 2010.

 “In cocaine, México has secured more than 100 tons; in marijuana, more than 100, 523 tons; in psychotropics, more than 60.7 million units; more than 90,000 arms, many from U.S. manufacturing companies, of which 80% were long guns,” said Mora.

Mora also said that the Mexican government’s formula for ensuring public safety is to weaken organized crime while at the same time strengthening the organizations that are in charge of providing public safety.

The body of a 24-year-old man, one of two people killed here by unknown gunmen on Thursday, April 8, 2010, lies on a street in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias)

“For many decades organized crime was strengthened because it was kept silent,” said Mora, and “that was the drug business along with the weakening of the institutional structures.” previously reported that, according to non-governmental organizations in Mexico, 1,200 children have been killed by drug cartel violence in that country since 2006.

According to Mexican government officials, more than 28,000 people have died as a result of Mexico’s drug-related violence since Mexican President Felipe Calderon stepped-up the government's fight against drug cartels and organized crime after taking office in December 2006.

Information for this report was partly gleaned from El Universal, a Spanish-language newspaper in Mexico.

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