Homicides during the first half of 2014 fell by over a third in Medellin, Colombia’s second largest city, according to a recent report.
As of July 1, there were 368 violent deaths in Medellin this year, a 34% drop compared to the 561 homicides that took place the first six months of 2013, Colombia’s El Sol Web TV reported on Saturday.
“The best way to start the month: zero homicides July 1 in Medellin,” said Mayor Anibal Gaviria Correa, speaking of the latest figures.
Last month there were 76 homicides, eight fewer than in June of 2013 or a 10% decrease, according to El Sol. So far in 2014, there have been 28 days in which not a single homicide has been registered in the city, as compared to 10 during the same period last year.
The report also found a 20% drop in auto-thefts, and a 6% rise in arrest rates. While the homicide rate for men dropped 38%, the homicide rate for women dropped only 21%.
Communities that have shown the greatest decline in murders relative to 2013 include District 12, which registered a 79% decrease, Altavista (74%), and San Antonio de Prado (73%), El Sol, reported
The SISC is responsible for monitoring and analyzing security and coexistence phenomena taking place in the state of Antioquia in order to provide sufficient material for decision makers, according to the SISC website.
Although homicides are down in Medellin, as a nation Colombia has the 10th highest murder rate in the world, according to a recent UN study.
The nationwide decline in homicides, though encouraging, can also give a false impression of dramatic progress, when in fact, local crime researchers have attributed the Medellin drop to a truce the city’s largest gang powers entered into last summer.
The gangs were said to have put a hold on open warfare, which draws the attention of journalists and the police, and instead to focus on other criminal activities, such as theft, extortion, and narco-trafficking.
In an interview with Colombia Reports last year, local crime expert Diego Herrera said, “The reduction in homicides has almost nothing to do with any government policies, and doesn’t tell the whole story besides.”
Murders will go up again, he warned, as soon as the truce fails, which earlier precedents indicate is an inevitability.
“[The truce] is not sustainable (… ) We call it ‘fragmentation.’ Something will happen, because something has to, and the violence will come back strong. This is always how it occurs. And the government hasn’t done anything to change that.”