While parts of the region remain violent, the murder rate has declined by nearly 60% over the past decade in major Latin American cities such as Bogota and Sao Paulo, according to a study by the Homicide Monitor.
Thanks to improved living standards, better education and decelerating urbanization, in many cities criminal activities are now more or less limited to some pockets of poor neighborhoods and some young males from poor families.
Homicide Monitor has created a map of the region that it is likely to unveil some time this week. The map was put together using statistics from the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime, government offices, health institutes and police records.
Only 10 countries in the region have homicide rates below 10 murders per 100,000 inhabitants: Chile, Cuba, Argentina, Suriname, Peru, Barbados, Uruguay, Dominica, Costa Rica and Paraguay. The safest of these is Chile.
Murder rates have declined drastically in once-violent cities such as Medellín and Rio de Janeiro, while the countries with the highest death rates in relation to the number of inhabitants are Honduras, El Salvador and Venezuela.
“Violence is not evenly distributed around the world, much less in Brazil,” says Robert Muggah, the founder of the Igarapé Institute, who analyzed the Homicide Monitor’s data for British daily The Guardian.
“The perception in many cities that everyone is equally at risk is flat-out wrong. In many U.S. cities, for example, less than 5% of street addresses account for 75% of violence. In Bogotá, just 2% of street addresses are where 98% of homicides occur.”
According to the report, homicides are concentrated among young male poor and better policing can certainly slash rates further in the years ahead.
The most dangerous cities in the region are located in Honduras (San Pedro Sula and Choloma), Mexico (Veracruz, Acapulco, Nuevo Laredo, Torreón), Belize, Brazil (Ananindeua and Maceió) and Colombia (Palmira).