Colombia is the sixth most dangerous country in Latin America, according to a regional crime index, dropping below Venezuela and Mexico, both of which have seen drug-related crime surges in parallel with Colombia’s recent drop in narco-violence.
The 2014 Latin Crime Index, Latinvex, analyzed and ranked data from 18 countries in Latin America, weighing criteria such as homicides, kidnappings, assaults, car thefts and violent and nonviolent robberies.
This year, Honduras was supplanted by Venezuela at the top of the list, with the latter’s homicide rate rising to 79 per thousand inhabitants. At 75 per thousand, Honduras’ homicide rate is still well above third-ranked El Salvador, with 43 per thousand.
Colombia, which ranked as the sixth most dangerous country overall, had the fifth-highest homicide rate, at 32 per thousand inhabitants, seventh highest kidnapping rate and sixth highest rate of auto theft of the countries analyzed.
While the country’s violence figures are still relatively high, they do represent a marked improvement from as recently as the early 2000s, when Colombia was the so-called “homicide capital” of the world.
The key factor contributing to regional violence is reportedly gang activity driven by the global drug trade, but “the problem varies greatly in kind and extent from country to country,” according to an interview with Latinvex published by Tenacitas International, a risk assessment company specializing in Latin America.
Drug-driven gang activity could be a reason for Venezuela’s high level of violence, as the country has taken on a greater role in drug trafficking due to heightened security in nearby Colombian ports.
Latinvex used data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Program for Development as well as statistics from the National Government and NGO’s.