A survey by polling organization Gallup finds that 17% of Colombians say they have had a close friend or relative murdered in the last year, a higher percentage than any other nation in Latin America.
Following Colombia in the poll is the Dominican Republic, where 14% of people say they have suffered a murder of someone close in the last year, followed by Brazil and Venezuela, with 11% and 10% respectively.
The median figure for the eighteen countries polled is 7%.
Figures released Tuesday by Colombia’s Institute for Legal Medicine and Forensic Science confirm this high level of violence, putting Colombia’s homicide rate in 2009 at 39.39 per 100,000.
In Mexico, despite the recent surge in drug-related violence, Gallup finds that 5% of people have had someone close to them murdered in the last year. This is confirmed by the Central American country’s murder rate which is far lower than Colombia’s, at 12 per 100,000 in 2008, the most recent year for which data is available.
Despite its old reputation as “kidnap capital of the world,” Colombia came joint second with Mexico in the poll for the number of people who say that a close friend or relative has been kidnapped in the last twelve months, both with 5%, compared to 8% of people in the Dominican Republic.
Police say that the rate of kidnapping in Colombia decreased by more than 50% in 2009 compared to 2008, with 223 people taken hostage in 2009. This represents a vast improvement from 2002, when the rate stood at around 3,000 kidnappings every year.
The median figure for kidnapping in the countries surveyed is 5%.
Uruguay was last in terms of both questions, with 1% of people claiming that a close friend or relative had been murdered in the last year, and 0% saying that someone close had been kidnapped.