El Salvador and Venezuela Vie for Dubious Title of Murder Capital

Deutsche Welle, December 29, 2015

A surge of El Salvador gang violence this year has pushed up homicides in the country by about 70 percent from 2014, making it a top contender to overtake Honduras as the world’s most murderous nation.

But an NGO that tracks crime in Venezuela said that country’s homicide rate has also risen in 2015, putting it on track to perhaps equal El Salvador.

Miguel Fortin, head of the National Forensics Institute in El Salvador, said the year will end with about 6,650 Salvadorans murdered, compared to 3,912 last year.

With a population of some 6.4 million people, that would equate to around 104 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, above the rate last registered in neighboring Honduras, which was the most deadly country in 2012.

“This has been the most violent year in El Salvador in terms of murders,” Fortin said. “It’s a real pandemic.”

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Meanwhile, the Venezuelan Violence Observatory estimates that 27,875 killings occurred this year, pushing the homicide rate in Venezuela up to 90 per 100,000 inhabitants. Last year, the observatory counted 82 killings per 100,000 people, while in 1998 the rate was only 19 per 100,000.

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Violence has risen steadily in El Salvador since a 2012 truce between the country’s two main gangs–the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18–began unraveling last year.

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