World

Colombia Eclipses Mexico in Murders Close to Home

by Julie Ray

Nearly 1 in 5 Colombians say friend, relative murdered in past 12 months

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Despite frequent news of drug war-related deaths in Mexico, Gallup polls show the average Mexican is less likely than those in several other Latin American countries to say a close friend or relative was murdered in the past year. Five percent of Mexicans interviewed in August 2009 said someone close to them was murdered in the past 12 months -- about average for the region.

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Drug- and gang-related deaths in Mexico's nearly four-year drug war surpassed 22,000 this year, but the country's homicide rate is lower than it was a decade ago. Mexico's homicide rate (11.6 per 100,000 in 2008) is still lower than those in other countries such as Colombia (38.8 per 100,000 in 2007), where residents are among the likeliest to say a friend or relative was murdered. Other Latin American countries with significant percentages claiming this -- the Dominican Republic (14%), Brazil (11%), Venezuela (10%), and Honduras (10%) -- tend to have relatively high homicide rates.

Gallup found Mexicans (5%) and Colombians (5%) are similar, however, regarding the number who report a friend or relative was kidnapped within the past 12 months. But Dominicans are more likely than Colombians or Mexicans -- or anyone else in the region -- to report this.

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Colombia's murder rate -- as well as its kidnap rate -- has fallen dramatically under President Alvaro Uribe's democratic security policy, and security and rule of law have both improved. The 17% of Colombians who say a close friend or relative who was murdered, however, attest that security remains a problem for many residents, with newly formed criminal bands that stem from former paramilitary groups spreading rapidly throughout some of the most important cities in Colombia.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact worldpollpartners@gallup.com or call 202.715.3030.

Survey Methods

Results are based face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in 2009 in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error ranges from ±3.3 percentage points in Brazil to ±3.9 percentage points in Peru. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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