Violent crime in Latin America grew to its highest rate since 2017. Central America and South America had the highest homicide rates on the planet with 25.9 and 24.2 murders per 100,000 people respectively, according to a report released by the UN office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Argentina has experienced a substantial decline in its homicide rate between 2015 and 2017 falling from 6.5 violent deaths per 100,000 to 5.1, a drop of 21.5 percent.
Across Río de la Plata in Uruguay, homicides are steadily increasing. The report only shows figures up until 2017, but it was reported earlier in 2019 that homicides in Uruguay increased 45 percent in 2018. Crime has been a hot button issue in the country’s presidential elections this year, and 407,000 people have signed a formal petition calling for a referendum to implement tough policies against crime.
The caribbean registered a lower rate with 15.1 according to the annual report released Monday.
The data on Latin America is exceptional compared to the rest of the world where homicides have “plummeted” the report said. The average homicide rate for the globe was 6.1 while in areas like Asia and Oceania only experienced around one violent death per 100,000 people.
El Salvador with 62 homicides per 100,000 people and Honduras with 41.7 were the two most murderous countries in the world. Migrants have been fleeing violence and poverty in the region to the US.
Latin America has seen its rate of violent deaths steadily rise since the 1990s, an inverse of trends for the rest of the world where homicides have declined 15 percent.
Venezuela, which is experiencing profound economic and social crisis, experienced a “dramatic increase” in its homicide rate from 13 in 1991 to 57 in 2017, an increase of around 350 percent. The second most murderous South American country, Brazil, trails far behind with 30.5.
Colombia, Venezuela’s neighbor, has had the opposite trend with a dramatic decrease from 80 to 30 in the previous three decades. The report partially attributed this steep decline to the “intensification of State action against drug trafficking.”
Chile and Argentina closed out the list 3.5 and 5.1 homicides per 100,000 respectively, the only two countries in Latin America which were below the global average of 6.1.
The rate of violent deaths in Latin America is between 8 and 11 times higher among men than among women.