While we’re playing with statistics about tourism, why not get into the real driver of tourism in Mexico these days — violent crime? Mexico’s Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Publicá provides easy access to all kinds of crime statistics, provided one is willing to use Microsoft Internet Explorer and deal with nasty pop-ups.
The data reveal the miserable trends that have teamed up with the H1N1 virus and a five-year worldwide economic drought to decimate the tourism sector, one of the most important drivers of largest Spanish-speaking country on the planet. Annual homicides with firearms in Chihuahua state, home of both the World Heritage Site Paquime and Ciudad Juarez on the US-Mexico border, increased from 212 in 2005 to 2,151 four years later(914.6%, if you’re interested). By 2011, that total rose another 7.0 percent to 2,301.
While I was having my Chihuahua vacation several residents told me there had been plenty of violence three years ago, but it had declined more recently. What has been the more recent history in Chihuahua and in Mexico?
Let’s take a look at the most data and compare the first three months of 2012 with the first quarter of 2011. For the State of Chihuahua, homicides with firearms are down 42.4% between the first quarter of 201 and 2012, from 674 to 388. The numbers are still frightening, but the drop is encouraging. Between 2005 and 2009, armed homicides increased at an average annual rate of 59.0% The 42.4% drop hopefully portends a rapid decline to normalcy. The gentle increase over the first three months of 2012 probably deals more with seasonality than a general increase in killing. Homicide levels peak in the summer.
Of course, the figures above describe armed homicides in all of Chihuahua State, which includes Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, and plenty of smaller places.
The numbers in “Murder City” Ciudad Juarez are more promising, which suggests things may not be so delightful in the city of Chihuahua. Between the first quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012, armed homicides in Ciudad Juarez fell from 378 to 133 — a 64.8% decline, suggesting things there are much improved (for now).
I suggested the city of Chihuahua may be witnessing a worsening homicide rate, and it did. Armed homicides increased from 98 to 113 between 1Q2011 and 1Q2012. Where else were there problems?
Here’s a bit of a surprise. Mexico City’s armed homicide rate increased 32.9% between the first quarter of 2011 and 2012. That would be alarming were it not for the fact that the number of armed homicides in Chihuahua (population 809,000) was identical to that of Mexico City (population 8.5 million).