The murder rate in the City of Buenos Aires is quite low compared with many other major world cities, according to the latest data from Argentina’s Justice Ministry.
Last year 4.92 people were murdered for every 100,000 people in the city. That’s lower than a broad range of major cities (see graph above) except for Toronto, where the rate was just 2.47.
It also means it was safer to live in Buenos Aires last year than in New York City, which had its lowest murder rate on record in 2009.
This should dispel some of the exaggerated claims that Buenos Aires is one of the more dangerous cities in Latin America or in the world. Still, the number is up from 2008, when it was 4.6.
That means the murder rate rose about 7% in just one year. Moreover, while the murder rate rose in Buenos Aires, it either declined or remained stable in the other cities compared.
This should give weight to the widely published claims that the city has become more dangerous or, literally, more deadly.
The Ministry released the data shortly after Justice Minister Julio Alak told members of Congress that overall crime had declined since 2002. But Alak failed to mention that it rose again in 2008.
The Ministry confirmed this just days after Alak testified before Congress, leading critics to say that Alak had lied or misled the public.
In recent years Argentine officials have dismissed claims that crime is getting worse, saying instead that people are simply experiencing “the sensation” that things are getting worse.
Government officials have used the same term to refer to the perception that inflation exists and is worsening. Not only do government officials deny that inflation exists, Economy Ministry Amado Boudou recently said that it “cannot exist” given other macroeconomic conditions.
Whatever the case, at the national level, the latest murder data are from 2008. That year Argentina was safer than just about any other Latin American country except for Chile, though Chile’s data that year offered contradictory numbers, making it hard to know which were accurate.
In any case, apart from Canada and the U.S., where the murder rates were 1.8 and 5.4, respectively, Argentina was the safest country in the hemisphere, according to the Ministry. Argentina’s murder rate in 2008 was 5.8 per 100,000 people.
The rate was almost five times higher in Brazil (26.6 using data from 2006) and about 10 times higher in Venezuela (52) and Honduras (57.9).
Recent polls indicate crime is the issue that most worries Argentines.