The Honduran city of San Pedro Sula, once known for its bananas, now hold’s the unfortunate title of the world’s most dangerous city. Ciudad Juarez, which held the title for 3 years from 2008 to 2010, is one of five Mexican cities in the top 10 most dangerous cities in the world according to the Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice, a private organization and wing of COPARMEX, the Mexican Employer’s Association. These are the 5 most dangerous cities in the world;
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
The second largest city in Honduras, after the capital Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula is the world’s most dangerous metropolitan area with a homicide rate of 159 homicides per 100,000 people.
Much of the recent upsurge in violence has been attributed to the city’s location. Close to Honduras’ Atlantic coast and the border with Guatemala, the city sits on key international drug trafficking routes. Its strategic locale has led many Mexican drug traffickers to establish closer connections with local crime bosses, known as ‘transporitas’, who are key in facilitating drug shipments between South America and Mexico.
The situation has been further exacerbated by the institutional weakness of the Honduran state. In 2009, a coup unseated the democratically elected President Manuel Zaleya, an event which lead to international condemnation and a spate of politically motivated killings.
As of 2010, Honduras has a homicide rate of 82 homicides per 100,000 people, the highest in the world.
Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
Situated on the US-Mexican border, Ciudad Juarez, or Juarez as it’s popularly known, was in 2008, 2009 and 2010 the world’s most dangerous metropolitan area. In 2011 the city had a reported homicide rate of 148 homicides per 100,000 people.
The home of rival drug cartels, Juarez has remained a focal point for violence in the ongoing Mexican drug war. In 2008, over 1,400 homicides were reported in the city, this grew to 2,600 in 2009, and to 3,075 in 2010, translating to a homicide rate of 229 homicides per 100,000 people, as a result many prominent local business groups called for the imposition of UN peacekeepers.
Despite being the second most violent city in the world there has been a significant decrease in the number of homicides committed in 2011 compared to previous years.
As of 2010, Mexico has a homicide rate of 28 homicides per 100,000 people.
The capital and the largest city of the coastal state of Alagoas, Maceió has the unfortunate distinction of being Brazil most dangerous city and the worlds third with a homicide rate of 135 homicides per 100,000 people.
Once known for its idyllic beaches and colonial architecture, the city’s homicide rate has climbed by 185% in just 10 years. Much, if not most, of the violence is drugs related with numerous addicts murdered every week due to unpaid debts. One man, a resident of one of the city’s sprawling favelas, said that 5 of his sons had been murdered in recent years.
With over 1,500 murders in 2011, Maceió is just one of the 14 Brazilian cities in the top 50 most violent cities in the world.
One of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations, the famed resort city of Acapulco, situated on the Pacific coast, had a reported homicide rate of 128 homicides per 100,000 people in 2011.
With rival drug cartels vying for important drug trafficking routes, Acapulco has played host to numerous turf wars, some of which have spilled over from the slums of the interior to the beaches of the coast, popular with international tourists, particularly Americans.
Much of the violence in Acapulco typifies the grizzly nature of the drug war in Mexico. In January 2011 Acapulco police discovered the bodies of 28 murder victims, 15 of whom were beheaded. Such beheading’s have become a common fixture of the conflict with 49 headless bodies discovered in Monterrey as recent as May 2012.
Acapulco, along with Juarez, are just two of the 12 Mexican cities in the top 50 most violent cities in the world.
Teguciagalpa, the Honduran capital, and its adjacent sister city, Comayaguela, form the Distrito Central (central district), the largest metropolitan area in Honduras. It’s the worlds fifth most dangerous metropolitan area with a homicide rate of 100 homicides per 100,000 people.
With such a high homicide rate, the capitals mayor, Ricardo Alvarez, introduced a free funeral service six years ago in response to the growing number of bodies being buried in plastic garbage bags.
Like San Pedro Sula, Mexican drug cartels have gained a firm foothold in the area. With an estimated 79% of all cocaine flights from South America to the USA stopping in Honduras, the homicide rate in the small central American state has doubled in the space of only 5 years, with the National Commission for Human Rights estimating that there is a violent death every 74 minutes in Honduras.