Amid drug war, Mexico less deadly than decade ago

This article was recently featured in the Washington Post. How people can play with statistics! It was just a few weeks ago that one writer was using stats to show that Mexico was the most dangerous place in the world for Americans. These stats not only knock that, it shows that its less dangerous than ten years ago.

By ALEXANDRA OLSON Monday, February 8, 2010; 12:00 AM

Decapitated bodies dumped on the streets, drug-war shootings and regular attacks on police have obscured a significant fact: A falling homicide rate means people in Mexico are less likely to die violently now than they were more than a decade ago. It also means tourists as well as locals may be safer than many believe. Mexico City’s homicide rate today is about on par with Los Angeles and is less than a third of that for Washington, D.C. Yet many Americans are leery of visiting Mexico at all.

Drug violence and the swine flu outbreak contributed to a 12.5 percent decline in air travel to Mexico by U.S. citizens in 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, a blow to Mexico’s third-largest source of foreign income. Mexico, Colombia and Haiti are the only countries in the hemisphere subject to a U.S. government advisory warning travelers about violence, even though homicide rates in many Latin American countries are far higher. “What we hear is, ‘Oh the drug war! The dead people on the streets, and the policeman losing his head,'” said Tobias Schluter, 34, a civil engineer from Berlin having a beer at a cafe behind Mexico City’s 16th-century cathedral. “But we don’t see it. We haven’t heard a gunshot or anything.”

Mexico’s homicide rate has fallen steadily from a high in 1997 of 17 per 100,000 people to 14 per 100,000 in 2009, a year marked by an unprecedented spate of drug slayings concentrated in a few states and cities, Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna said. The national rate hit a low of 10 per 100,000 people in 2007, according to government figures compiled by the independent Citizens’ Institute for Crime Studies. By comparison, Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala have homicide rates of between 40 and 60 per 100,000 people, according to recent government statistics. Colombia was close behind with a rate of 33 in 2008. Brazil’s was 24 in 2006, the last year when national figures were available. Mexico City’s rate was about 9 per 100,000 in 2008, while Washington, D.C. was more than 30 that year.

I recently got back from a trip to Guadalajara and Lake Chapala. We had a great time, shopping in Tonalá and Tlaquepaque, and we never felt unsafe the whole time. We had a great time. Its such as shame that Mexico is getting blasted with this sensationalism over security in the country. Its hurting Mexico and its people and tourists are missing out on experiencing a wonderful culture and country.

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