Forty-three of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world are in Latin America, according to a survey released Tuesday, including 19 in Brazil, which will host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
Mexico City didn’t make the list, and Ciudad Juárez, the border city with Texas that was once the world’s murder capital, fell this year to No. 27.
But the fallen Mexican resort of Acapulco was No. 3, behind San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and Caracas, Venezuela.
This is the seventh year that the Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice, a Mexico City advocacy, has compiled the list, based on official murder rates per 100,000 residents of cities with more than 300,000 people.
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The president of the council, José Antonio Ortega Sánchez, said Brazilian authorities would do well to take note that its cities are growing in number on the annual list. Last year, Brazil had 16 cities in the ranking.
“If the Brazilian government doesn’t wake up to confront the problem, reduce levels of impunity and corruption . . . then they are going to have a very serious problem,” Ortega Sánchez said.
Neither Rio de Janeiro, the host city for the 2016 Games, nor São Paulo, the industrial megalopolis, is ranked among the top 50 cities. Backed by a massive police presence, those two cities and 10 others that hosted matches for last year’s World Cup in Brazil managed to keep crime down during the month-long event.
But outside of the World Cup, many Brazilian cities grapple with high murder rates. The most murderous Brazilian cities are João Pessoa (4), Maceió (6), Fortaleza (8), São Luís (10), Natal (11), Vitoria (15), Cuiabá (16), Salvador (17), Belém (18) and Teresina (20), according to the survey. Brazilian cities ranking lower are Goiânia (23), Recife (29), Campina Grande (30), Manaus (33), Porto Alegre (37), Aracaju (39), Belo Horizonte (42), Curitiba (44) and Macapá (46).
Mexico has 10 cities on the list, while Colombia has five, Venezuela and the United States four each, three in South Africa, two in Honduras and one each in El Salvador, Guatemala and Jamaica.
The U.S. cities in the ranking are St. Louis (19), Detroit (22), New Orleans (28) and Baltimore (40).
Ortega Sánchez said analysts in his organization sought to tally homicide rates in cities in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, but that data proved unreliable or below the threshold of other cities with high homicide rates.
Some cities in Mexico fell markedly in the rankings, but Ortega Sánchez said authorities should not take credit.
“Homicide rates are falling, but this shouldn’t lead Mexican authorities to celebrate or sing of triumph,” Ortega Sánchez said. In cities such as Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez and Torreón, the murder rate fell because one criminal group wrested or imposed control over another cartel, he added.
“It had nothing to do with public policy,” he said.
In cities like Acapulco, various criminal groups still battle for dominance, leaving a trail of bodies, and local officials are often in collusion with them, he said.
Mexico’s most violent cities after Acapulco are Culiacán (24), Ciudad Juárez (27), Ciudad Obregón (31), Nuevo Laredo (34), Ciudad Victoria (41), Ciudad Chihuahua (43), Tijuana (45), Torreón (48) and Cuernavaca, the bedroom resort to Mexico City at No. 50.
The South Africa cities on the list are Cape Town (14), Nelson Mandela Bay (35) and Durban at No. 38.