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Caracas was the most dangerous capital city in the world last year, study says

Jim Wyss, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Caracas, Venezuela, was the most dangerous capital city in the world in 2017, according to a new study that underscores how Latin America remains one of the bloodiest swaths of the planet.

According to Mexico's Citizens Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice, 43 of the world's 50 most violent cities were in Latin America and the Caribbean, with Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela leading the list.

Los Cabos, Mexico, topped the annual ranking with a murder rate of 111.3 per 100,000 residents. But Caracas -- just one of five capital cities on the list -- was in a close second place with 111.2 murders per 100,000 residents.

The 10th-annual ranking was released this week and measures murder rates in cities with more than 300,000 people.

The report's authors said Venezuela's murder rate had become increasingly difficult to determine. The government does not release official data and local media hadn't been providing full reports, the study found, making it a nation that has become "incapable of counting its dead."

In addition, the mass exodus from Venezuela means that population estimates are no longer accurate, so murder rates are likely higher than reported, the study found.

The authors said they determined the Caracas figures by extrapolating from information gathered at the morgue. According to their calculations, the city had an estimated 3,387 murders in 2017.

Due to the difficulty in calculating the figures, the authors said they removed two Venezuelan cities from their annual list -- Cumana and Gran Barcelona -- not because there was an improvement but simply because there was not enough data.

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The study confirms, once again, that the Western Hemisphere remains the deadliest part of the world, even though there are no outright wars here.

The report found that Brazil had 17 of the most violent cities followed by Mexico with 12, Venezuela with five, the United States with four, Colombia and South Africa with three, and Honduras with two.

El Salvador, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and Jamaica each had one city on the list.

Among the U.S. cities in the ranking were St. Louis, with 65 homicides per 100,000 residents, followed by Baltimore, New Orleans and Detroit.

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