Honduras was the country with most homicides between 2010 and 2014, according to several reports published in relation to homicides by the United Nations Organisation. However, in 2015, the national police force of Honduras revealed figures indicating a drop in the homicide rate of 77.45 homicides per 100.000 inhabitants to 59.37 between 2013 and 2015, when Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado became the country’s President.
But it is not only the fall in the Honduras rate which has led to a change in the order of countries with the most homicides in the world because, according to the 2015 report by The Venezuela Violence Observatory, the homicide rate in Venezuela has gone up to 90 homicides per 100.000 inhabitants, meaning that one in five people murdered in America are Venezuelan. In the case of El Salvador, still without definitive figures but with several reports from the Institute of Legal Medicine (IML) with projections made before the period ended, this could involve a similar or higher rate (the estimate is 91 per 100.000 inhabitants).
According to the Venezuela Violence Observatory, this increase in homicides in Venezuela may be due to a rise in organised crime, of a resigned or passive attitude on the part of law-enforcement employees (owing to the high rate of victims in these agencies and the precarious nature of their working conditions), to the privatisation of security services (which leads to citizens taking out contracts to have criminals “punished” in an extrajudicial way), to greater poverty and social unrest, and to institutional decay.
Another cause believed to contribute to this increase is the very factor which has been used to explain the decrease in homicides in Honduras: militarisation as a deterrent or repressive element of security. Carina Solmirano, IDB researcher (Inter-American Development Bank) publishes a reflection on the blog Sin Miedos (WithoutFear) about the possible risks involved in greater militarisation in Latin American countries. He considers that a greater military presence can involve an attack on human rights, given that several organisations have reported abuse, torture, rape and murder. Moreover, the fact that armed forces achieving more autonomy may compromise the quality of democracy is also noted. Despite this, the same report mentions how a survey carried out in Latin America in 2014 revealed that 71.5% of the population was in favour of a greater military presence in order to combat crime and violence.
Homicide rate per 100.000 inhabitants
* In the case of El Salvador, the rate is an estimate.
Source: Own elaboration based on figures from the quoted reports.
- Webpage of the Police Statistics of Honduras (SEPOL): Record of annual homicide rates
- Venezuela Violence Observatory: Report 2015
- Transparency website of El Salvador: Annual homicide reports prepared by the Institute of Legal Medicine
- Blog Sin miedos (Withoutfear): Los riesgos de militarizar la respuesta a la inseguridad en América Latina (The risks of militarizing the response to insecurity in Latin America)