2011's grim statistics

With 2011 closed out, the murder statistics from each country are rolling in. They come from both official government figures and NGO's, often in dispute. Here are some of the figures. The per 100,000 rate can also vary based on what number you use for the population of the country.:

After some controversy, Mexico released the numbers for the first nine months of 2011 showing 12,903 murders related to the "drug war", an 11% increase from the previous year. Depending on how the final numbers look, the homicide rate remains below 20 per 100,000 nationwide, though the state by state numbers have a huge variance.

Guatemala reports there were 5,618 homicides. The number works out to be about 36 per 100,000 showing the trend line going in the right direction.

El Salvador saw a sharp increase with 4,354 murders according to the police. That works out to about 76 per 100,000.

Honduras is even worse, seeing a spike of 15% to 6,723 murders according to a local university that closely tracks the numbers. They say that number places the rate at about 86 per 100,000. That makes Honduras the most violent country in the world. To compare Honduras only had a rate of 38 per 100,000 in 2005.

Venezuela's statistics are always controversial as the government releases numbers manipulated far lower than independent organizations monitoring the violence on the ground. The OVV says there were 19,336 murders in 2011 while CICPC puts the number at 18,850. That works out to be a rate of 67 or 65 per 100,000. In past years, the government placed the rate closer to 50 per 100k.

Colombia reports 13,520 homicides in 2011, their lowest homicide rate since 1984. That works out to be a murder rate around 30 per 100,000.

I looked for the Brazil numbers for 2011 but could not come up with a good figure nationally (I'll update when I do). The 2010 number of nearly 50,000 murders placed Brazil at 26 per 100,000.

To be clear, whether the trend line is up or down in a country, all of these numbers are too high. It's good for Guatemala and Colombia to be doing better, but murder rates at four times the global average still likely place them in the top 15 most violent countries in the world. Sadly, Honduras, El Salvador and Venezuela will once again take the top three spots globally.

UPDATE: Via a Mexican NGO, here's the list of the top 50 most violent cities in the world, 40 of which are in the Western Hemisphere.