Since a very good friend of mine was murdered in Belize, I have been super sensitive to crime reports. That’s why I sat up and paid attention yesterday when an organization with a long, descriptive name issued its annual list of the world’s most dangerous cities. Yesterday, there were only a handful of responses to it. Today, the subject exploded and it seems like everyone in media is writing a reaction.
When I first read the list, I thought to myself, “Hey! Where are Kabul, Raqqa, and Damascus?” When I googled Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice (Seguridad Justica y Paz), the Mexico City organization that issues this list, I found the answer. Its report includes only cities of 300,000 or more that are not “classified as currently active war zones”. An English translation is available on its website.
The Council, which seems legit, bases its 50 most dangerous cities report on murder rate, not purse snatchings. The most dangerous city, therefore, remains San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Several authoritative contacts have told me that Honduras is the most dangerous country in the world, so this didn’t surprise me. One reporter noted that many of the murdered are journalists, not tourists. Still, perhaps this is not a good time to sightsee in Honduras.
Acapulco is #3. Mexico has ten cities on the list including a Mexico City resort area but not the city itself. I find this ironic because another international organization, Euromonitor, reported recently that Mexico is the most popular international destination in the world and predicted that 21,300,000 tourists will go there this year. When I meet traveling people, I often find that many are either on their way to Mexico or returning. Many tell me that they go every year and then look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them that I currently avoid Mexico when planning trips. I know several people, including my daughter, who have been crime victims there.
Brazil has 19 listed cities. Again, this is ironic since Rio, which isn’t one of the 19, will host the Summer Olympic Games next year. Brazil placed 4 cities in the top 10 with João Pessoa #4. Since I had never heard of JP, I researched to learn that it’s a coastal town, a big holiday destination, and a city with a reputation for being both safe and friendly according to Lonely Planet.
The #2 murder capital, Caracas, Venezuela, didn’t surprise me, but #19 did–St. Louis, my hometown. It’s one of 4 cities in the United States to make the list. The others are Detroit, New Orleans, where we’re going next month, and Baltimore. My car was broken into some years ago in St. Louis, and when I finally found a policeman he told me the city was out of control and that filing a report was useless.
Capetown is the 14th most dangerous city in the world. When my friend Ed, a vineyard owner, went to South Africa to learn about wines, he was not allowed to go anywhere in Capetown without an escort. Nelson Mandela Bay and Durban also made the list.