7 News Belize

Belize’s Murder Rate Going Down, Caribbean and Latin America Going Up
posted (January 3, 2014)
We've been reporting on the decrease in murders in Belize for 2013 - down from 145 to 99. We stress 99 murders is nothing to celebrate, but 46 fewer murders is reason to feel relief. While everyone has their own answer for the downturn, we wondered how it compared to other crime-ridden countries in the Caribbean and Latin America.

According to statistics obtained by 7News from a colleague in the Caribbean, in most countries the murder rate is up. This is according to preliminary and unofficial figures. In Trinidad and Tobago, there were 405 murders, which is 6% more than the previous year, putting their murder rate at 30 per hundred thousand.

In Jamaica, there were 1241 murders, which is up 15% from the year before putting their murder rate at 46 per one hundred thousand, which is expected to be one of the highest in the hemisphere.

In the Bahamas, there were 118 murders, which puts that country's murder rate at 32, which is up 6% from last year.

In Guyana, where end of year figures were hard to come by, there were 142 estimated murders, putting their murder rate at 19, which is up 3%.

In Guatemala, there were 47 more murders, leaving that country with 6,072 murders, an increase of less than one percent, and a murder rate of 40.2.

We aren't able to get final figures for Honduras - which is widely acknowledged as the murder capital of the world. But up to the end of November that country's murder rate was still estimated at an alarming 80.

Venezuela was also very high; there were a reported 24,763 murders in 2013, putting their murder rate at 79 per hundred thousand, up 8% from the previous year. That is expected to be among the highest in the world - though we stress that and all the other numbers are unofficial at this time.

And in the context of all that violence that's what makes Belize's 32% reduction in homicides all the more remarkable. Belize was in the top ten internationally of the most homicidal countries on earth for the last three years.

And while a murder rate of 30 is still way up there, and way too high, this is the only country in the region reporting any kind of downturn at this time, and it is a huge downturn - fully one - third fewer murders.

We'll keep scouring international news sources for a broader picture in the coming weeks.

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