IS MEXICO SAFE FOR TOURISTS?
MEXICAN & INTERNATIONAL MURDER RATES COMPARED
In a press release dated July 23, 2014, Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI for its initials in Spanish) announced the homicide rates per 100,000 population for Mexico for 2013. For the nation as a whole, the rate was 19. For the State of Morelos 33. For the state of Yucatan 2. Quite wide variations state to state and city to city reflect mostly the impact of the drug wars in different locales. Press reports say the rates are down in 2014 in most of the country. The rate for Cuernavaca is 35. It should be noted that no effort has been made to distinguish between those killed in the city and those killed in neighboring pueblos and dumped in the city for publicity purposes. City police authorities claim (uncorroborated) that not one foreign tourist was killed in Cuernavaca in all of 2013.
Various sources on the internet list the US homicide rate at 4.7 in 2012. Cities with the highest homicide rates in the US are, in order, Flint MI (64.9), Detroit (54.6), New Orleans (53.5), St. Louis MO (35.5), Baltimore (35), Birmingham (33.7), Newark & Oakland (33.1). All others are below the Cuernavaca rate. Many US cities have much higher overall crime rates. For example, one of the highest is Orlando FL at 78. Yet tourists flock to places like Orlando and New Orleans while shunning Cuernavaca whose crime rates are much lower.
Comparing Mexico’s national homicide rate (19) with that of other countries, many are significantly higher: Venezuela (54), Bahamas (30), Belize (45), Jamaica (39), St. Kitts & Nevis (34). The countries feeding undocumented immigration to the US have worse rates: El Salvador (41), Guatemala (40), Honduras (90).
When comparing homicide rates, it is important to consider who the victims are. An article in the Houston Chronicle in October 2013 pointed out the dangers of several border cities but noted: “By comparison, most tourist zones have had few or no reported U.S. citizen murders, according to the U.S. Department of State’s reports of deaths of U.S. Citizens Abroad by Non-Natural Causes.” (Lisa Olsen, “Where U.S. Citizens are being killed in Mexico,” Houston Chronicle, Oct. 12, 2013). To repeat: City police authorities claim (uncorroborated) that not one foreign tourist was killed in Cuernavaca in all of 2013. Most homicides are the result of drug lords killing other drug lords. Tourists are not the targets nor the victims. US tourists are safer in many Mexican cities than in cities of comparable size in the US.