Is Mexico Safer than the U.S.?

Here comes Easter break again and young people will be young people; high school and college kids will travel to distant places where the drinking age is either less than it is in the U.S. or where authorities don’t care to enforce minors’ drinking laws. For several decades Mexico has been one such place of choice where the legal drinking age is 18. Mazatlan, Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun were the fly to favorite places and Rosarito Beach and Ensenada the favorite drive to places from Southern California. But not this year, or for that matter neither was it last year.

Our government and the U.S. media have convinced most Americans that Mexico is not a safe place to visit as drug traffickers are fighting it out to see which gang will have the right to sell their illicit drugs to the very group that will not be visiting Mexico. They will have to wait until they return from Easter break to get their Mexican smuggled drugs at home.

But what really struck me was that the preferred country to visit this Easter break in lieu of Mexico is the Dominican Republic. It struck me because Dominica is rated as the number one country with the highest propensity for crime in the world. According to facts gathered by, their total crime per 1,000 residents (per capita) is 113.822 –Compared to the U.S. that is 8th in the world in total crimes at 80.0645 per 1000 residents, making chances of being a victim of a crime in Dominica better than 10%, and slightly less than an 8% chance of being a victim in the U.S.

But here is the real clunker: Mexico, the country our government tells us not to visit and the media has a field day reporting any crime be it significant or not to further put the fear of God into staying away from there – well, it ranks 39th in total crime in the world with a per capita of slightly less than 13 crimes per 1000 residents that is a 1.3% chance of being a victim of crime in Mexico.

So Mexico is out, Dominica is in, yet the chances of being a crime victim there is greater than in the U.S. and the chances of being a crime victim in the U.S. is greater than in Mexico. But, for our own safety we need to stay out of Mexico.

Have you ever felt like you’re being duped but you can’t quite put your finger on why; what’s the motive? Is it to keep us from facing some bitter truths? We keep reading how crime is down, how safe we are compared to most other parts of the world. But is it true?

So here are some multiple choice questions for you:
1. Which country has a higher crime rate per 1,000 residents?
Mexico, b. Germany, c. Canada, d. U.S.

2. Which country has the highest murders with firearms?
Mexico, b. El Salvador, c. U.S.

3. Of the following countries, which has the least number of drug offenses?
a. Germany, b. United Kingdom, c. Canada, d. Switzerland, e. Mexico

4. Which country has the most prisoners?
a. United States, b. China, c. Russia, d. India, e. Mexico
(Answers: 1. d. U.S., 2. c. U.S., 3. e. Mexico, 4. a. U.S.)

In one of the only bright spots due to its recent gang related murders, Mexico, on a per capita, ranks as more dangerous than the U.S. occupying No. 24 and Mexico No. 6 in the world, but in total number of murders the U.S. is No. 5 and Mexico No. 6.

In fact, much of the crime data per capita 1000 population suggests that in many respects Mexico is safer than the U.S.: in assaults the U.S. ranks No. 6, Mexico No. 20; burglaries the U.S. No. 17, Mexico No. 34; car thefts U.S. No. 9, Mexico No. 22; fraud U.S. No. 18, Mexico No. 29; Rape (Canada No.5), U.S. No. 9, Mexico No. 17.

No doubt that, at the expense of Mexico, we are being duped. Is it to hide our insatiable appetite for illicit drugs and cheap labor, and so by pointing the finger of guilt to the biggest supplier of both we exculpate our actions or at minimum pacify our own guilt?

Maybe it’s time for “the home of the free, and land of the brave” to take note.

Patrick Osio is Editor of He can be reached at: Read other articles by Patrick.

6 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Pedestrian said on February 24th, 2011 at 1:40pm #

    Please excuse me, but you have “” and i think it is “”… isn’t it?


  2. redmusze said on February 25th, 2011 at 10:40am #

    dominica and the dominican republic are two different countries.

  3. Pseudo Named said on February 25th, 2011 at 8:50pm #

    Dominican Republic. A country on the eastern half of island of Hispaniola. Speak Spanish. Play bachata and merengue and salsa. Johnny Pacheco and Monchy y Alejandra. Big proportion of its citizens live in New York City. Dominica. One of the Windward Islands. Speak English and Bouyan Creole. Play bouyan rhythym and soca. First Serenade Band and WCK. Big proportion of its citizens live in New York City.

  4. hayate said on February 25th, 2011 at 11:15pm #

    What’s up with all the anal israelis posting here?

  5. Charlie said on February 26th, 2011 at 5:54pm #

    This article risks being an example of “Lies, damned lies, and statistics.” The author dangerously leaves unexplored the kind of data that might be of more use in making a credible comparison of crime rates across nations.

    How do countries differ in reporting rates for crime? Can that even be accurately measured?
    How many cops per capita?
    How many courts, and what is the justice system like?
    How do the laws and the legal systems vary?
    How corrupt are the legal system and the cops?
    How many acquittals in the courts?
    What are the stats for rural vs urban areas? Tourist areas?
    How many of the reported crimes in the U.S. are actually committed by criminals from Mexico, and how many crimes in Mexico are actually committed by criminals from America?
    And what about specific locations within nations? I might feel safe in the enclaves of a seaside hotel in Acapulco but quite nervous in some American neighborhoods known for drugs and crimes of violence. What good are national statistics when individual locations vary greatly in crime rates?
    And so on with about 100 critical questions that would be the basis of a real comparison.

    The author should do an apples to apples comparison or at least mention factors that might make the statistics more thought-provoking. Mexico and the U.S. are sufficiently different, both economically and culturally, to warrant a more thorough comparison than this compilation of potentially misleading data.

    Perhaps the U.S. would look even more dangerous than Mexico with an in-depth and credible exploration of crime, perhaps not. But if the author wants to assert that I’m being duped, then I need more convincing.

    I agree that the media here are obsessed with crimes in Mexico that may not be common but have considerable shock value, such as beheadings, mass murders of law enforcement, and drug gang wars; but I’m not convinced it’s part of a campaign aimed at demeaning Mexico. I think it’s more likely a sad concession to an uninquisitive audience that values gore over journalistic or statistical substance.

  6. globe viewer said on February 28th, 2011 at 5:22pm #

    I been living in both Mexico and the US, this numbers are like saying that there is more obesity in the US than in Somalia. With 80% of the mexican population in extreme poverty, most of the crime target is in 20% of the population so is basically 5 times the risk to tourist with some economic resources. Also, drugs cartels are the big wholesalers and that control of the large amounts is more violent than the retail distribution channels that you imagine are in the US. Is not to point fingers but we can not relay in numbers if the situation is so different, and gangs operate in poverty areas because gangs has more territorial interest than economic itself,so no wonder why Mexico is worst in that category. Hope we could have peace everywhere but you can not use this numbers to make any final statement, believe me because I have live both countries for many years.