Murder Rate of Americans in Mexico - According to the US State Department and Associated Press
Since I wrote this impassioned article about the murder rate of Americans in Mexico in 2009, things have changed. In 2010, the murder rate for American citizens in Mexico went up. You still aremore likely to get hit by lightning in the USA than to be murdered in Mexico, but murder is gaining ground! I just want to give you the facts and let you reason things out. I am not trivializing the deaths of anyone. Death is a tragedy. Neither am I sensationalizing these peoples' deaths, as the media does. I encourage people to go to Mexico. The news stories and Mexico bashers harp on the thousands of deaths due to drug violence. Here is a less sensationalistic story about your personal chances of being murdered in Mexico as an average tourist.
The bottom line is that you have a darn good chance of getting shot in the USA at a parking lot of a shopping center, a Wal-Mart, a school, a post office etc. In fact, you have a greater chance of getting shot there than in Mexico. People hear the big numbers of killings but don't take into account that they refer to non-tourists. In terms of highway robberies, yes, sometimes they happen, but they happen in the USA too. Don't drive big, $50,000 pickups and SUV's and you won't get carjacked.
Do not confuse missionaries and people working in Mexico with tourists. As a tourist, you are unlikely to frequent the same neighborhoods, have possible confrontations with people who know you, or be targeted by criminals.
The Associated Press came up with their own statistics (although I could not verify them with the U.S. State Department web site. Call it a conspiracy or maybe I have gotten senile, but I found the death rates for US citizens in Mexico and the world easily last year and now they are all gone?). 2010 Stats will be put up when available.
Deaths Are Up
Let's assume the AP stats are legit. As sensational as they are, they should be examined. One story reads that, "... the number of U.S. citizens killed in Mexico in 2009 was more than double the number killed in 2007." Hmm, and what happened to 2008? That astounding, astronomical number of deaths of Americans in Mexico was - 78 (more people are murdered in the USA in 2 days). In 2007, 37 Americans (they say) were killed. That is possible, since in 2008 the U.S. State Department authenticated the murder deaths of Americans in Mexico (from ALL causes, not just drug-related) at 50.
Every death is a tragedy. Statistics dehumanize deaths, but maybe that is a good thing. Cold, dispassionate numbers should help to put things into perspective. We, the general public cannot know all of the people who have died.
These Murder Statistics Will Scare You
But even when reduced to numbers, murders can induce hysteria. That is what is happening now.
There were 315 muders in 2009 and 23,779 violent crimes. The murder rate is frightening. It makes me afraid to go back. And to think I used to live there! Why, from Jan. 31, 2010 to April 1, 40 people were murdered.
Lest you assume I am talking about Mexico, let me assure you that these statistics are from a city with a Latin-sounding name, Los Angeles, California. This info is not from a tabloid, but from the LA Police Department’s own web site http://www.lapdonline.org/. They move the statistics from time to time, so look at their menu to find them.
LA is not the most dangerous city in the USA by a long shot (pardon the pun). Places like Oakland, Detroit, Philadelphia (a friend from NJ told me she would not go to Philly because, “people shoot each other in braid daylight there.”), Newark, New Orleans and so usually win the death lottery.
Every day, approximately 45 people are murdered in the USA, according to FBI statistics.
The USA Leads Canada In This
611 people were murdered in Canada in 2008. That is less than 2 a day.
Yet, the Sunbelt states are happily inundated with unarmed Canadians every winter. I guess they have not heard the news that the USA is dangerous. Or maybe, they view things in perspective.
I am not denying that there is a dangerous war going on in Mexico between the drug gangs and the government. I am not denying that people are getting killed. I do not deny that very unfortunately, a few innocent bystanders are caught in the crossfire. Even worse, deadly mistakes have been made by the very people charged with cleaning up the gangs. They have shot innocents. But how many innocent people are killed in the USA every day?
The Border Is Not All Mexico
Mexico is not Reynosa. Mexico is not Nuevo Laredo. Mexico is not Tijuana. And so on. Mexico is not one city. In general, Mexico does not have murders like the USA does. Drug gangs and soldiers slug it out. Drug gangs kill other drug gangs. I talk to friends in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Cabo San Lucas, Tamazunchale, Pachuca, Puebla, Oaxaca, San Blas, Putero Vallarta and on and on. Not one of them expressed fear of living in Meixco. Every one of them knew what was going on back on the border.
Putting Things Into Perspective
The facts are that an American’s (extrapolated to any foreigner’s) chance of being murdered in Mexico is less than his chance of being struck by lightning. According to the U.S. State Department, in 2008, 50 Americans were murdered in Mexico. 90 Americans were struck by lightning in the USA. Read on if you have an open mind. Oh, and to further fly in the face of accepted hysteria, in an average year, 20,000 people are killed by the “common” flu in the USA.
One advantage of living a few decades is that it gives you perspective. Back in ancient times (the 1960’s and 1970’s) people tried to dissuade me from driving to Mexico. It’s not safe, they cried.You’ll be robbed … shot by bandits … arrested. Today people shout the same untruths. They were wrong then and they are wrong now, according to US State Department and FBI statistics – the same statistics used by the Houston Chronicle, MSNBC, AP and others to scare people from going to Mexico.
In forty years and half a million miles of driving to almost every nook and cranny of Mexico. I’ve yet to see a bandit. I’ve yet to be kidnapped. I’ve yet to be afraid. Oh, I was arrested once, but I deserved it.
About 1 ½ million Mexican tourists visit the USA yearly. How often have you seen a headline:Mexican tourist robbed (or shot)? It happens. It’s just not headline-worthy. A friend of mine in the consular service in Los Angeles said that helping Mexicans who’d been robbed or murdered were part of his duties. Not one newspaper every asked him about such “incidents.”
The Chronicle headline that screamed that more than 200 Americans had been killed in Mexico since 2004. That’s nearly five years. That’s about fifty a year, which is not headline-worthy. To theChronicle’s credit, it fairly pointed out that most of the homicide victims were involved in organized crime. Some were wanted for crimes in the USA. It allowed that in 70 cases, “ the victims were apparently visiting family, vacationing or living or working there.”
People get murdered anywhere in the world because of grudges, arguments or love affairs gone wrong. Or, sometimes people just get robbed and shot who don’t deserve it. It happens here. Every few days I read about someone getting shot in my hometown. It’s a shame, but it’s not a symptom of … a nation out-of-control as some try to label Mexico.
Yes, gangsters shoot at each other and the army shoots back. It’s unlikely you’ll be in the neighborhood – any more than you’ll be in the neighborhood of a gang shootout at home. The chance of getting murdered for any reason in Mexico is less than the chance of getting struck by lighting in the USA (90 deaths versus 50). It’s one-sixth the likelihood of your being gunned down in the USA. You could get gunned down in the USA at: a museum in Washington DC, a church, a mall, a fast food restaurant / convenience store, by a serial killer in South Carolina, California or anywhere, a drive-by shooting and so on.
Statistics From 2007 and 2008
The FBI 2007 statistics state that there were 1.4 million violent crimes in the USA. 466.9 per 100,000 people with 16,929 murders or 5.6 per 100,000 people.http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/offenses/violent_crime/index.html That sounds pretty scary to me.
The US State Department reported that for 2008, there were 221 deaths from all causes of American citizens in Mexico. As I said earlier, the link to that document is gone (deleted) from the State Department web site.
Detroit is as far from the Mexican border as you can get so that claims of “spillover violence” can’t be used (unless there is a Canadian Cartel). It has about 900,000 residents. In 2007 there were 19,690 violent crimes with 392 murders. Houston, our forth largest city with about 2 ½ million people had 24,564 violent crimes (351 murders the same year. Gee it seems that some of our cities have more murders each year than death from all causes of American citizens in the entire country of Mexico.
Most Americans who met their Maker in Mexico did so via highway accidents or pedestrian fatalities (89). Second was homicides (50), next was suicide (24) with drowning and my favorite “Other,” trailing in the polls at 21 each. I’m surprised the Chronicledidn’t glom onto the category, “Executions.” (9). All but one of those occurred in Cd. Juarez.
With about three million Americans tourists a year and about one million living in Mexico, the murder rate for Americans is around one per 100,000 or so – about one-sixth the murder rate in the USA.