Through your Facebook network or media articles, you may have come across the website, HowSafeisMexico.com . The website which is not openly credited to a specific author, provides a number of statistics that generally show that much of Mexico is very safe and open for business and tourism (as long as you use common sense in big cities and avoid certain areas of Northern Mexico that have been hard hit by the drug trade). The website claims to have utilized government, media, and consultant sources of information.
A few statistics really stood out, and the critical thinker in me decided to put these ‘wow factor’ statistics to the test.
Probably most pertinent to us here in Chicago was its graph comparing Mexico’s homicide rate to that of American cities including our own.
If this graph is accurate it should be New Orleans, Saint Louis, and perhaps even Chicago deserve travel advisories rather than our southern neighbor. So I went ahead and looked into this infographic. Initially, I was unable to find evidence of the FBI statistics matching their own. For example, Chicago’s regional rate is only 6.8 homicides per hundred thousand inhabitant in 2011 the final year with finalized data – less than half the rate quoted by the Mexican promotion site.
However, then I realized the issue; instead of looking at the region, I had to calculate the city proper. So I took the 431 homicides in 2011 divided by the 2.7 million residents and found that in that case the rate was sadly slightly higher than the one quoted on the site! Still worse was New Orleans which had 23.7 homicides per hundred thousand residents in 2011.
OK so the site is accurate or even conservative in their estimate for American cities, but this was only half of their analysis. Nowhere on the FBI site did I find statistics on foreign countries’ crime rates. Through Mexican government statistics, I found their country’s rate per hundred thousand inhabitants was 24 in 2011. This places it around that of Brazil but below the rate of Honduras or New Orleans for that matter.
While these statistics aren’t gospel, I do praise the site for helping give perspective to the whole situation. Like Mexico, Chicago is at risk of injuring its brand if it is simply seen as a hub of murder and muggings. As someone who has taught after school on the South Side and conducted program evaluation on the West Side, I can tell you that life goes on outside the glitzy Miracle Mile. Oh and if you are going to use statistics at your guide, New Orleans is definitely that place avoid. That and don’t be a male over 15.