Ecuador’s murder rate dropped to 5.6 per 100,000 residents in 2016, giving it the second lowest rate in Latin America. Chile has the lowest at 4.8 per 100,000.
The country recorded 914 homicides in 2016 which, according to Minister of the Interior Diego Fuentes, is the first time since record-keeping began that the figure was below 1,000.
Fuentes said that 55 percent of murders were the result of domestic violence while 45 percent were related to criminal activity. In the case of non-domestic murders, he said most of the victims knew their attackers.
According to ministry crime statistics, Ecuador’s murder rate was 18.7 cases in 2008 but began to decline afterward, reaching 17.5 in 2010 and 10.9 in 2013.
By comparison to Ecuador, Colombia’s murder rate was 27 per 100,000 in 2016, Mexico’s was 14, Panama’s was 11, and Peru’s was 7.3.
Cuenca and Loja had the lowest rates for cities over 100,000 population in 2016, at 3.2.
Fuentes credits the government’s large investment in public safety for the improving statistics. “Specifically, we have increased the number of law enforcement officers by more than 40% since 2009, implemented one of the region’s best 911 emergency call services, and installed video cameras in high crime areas,” he said.
Another factor for the dropping rate, according to an interior ministry press release, is the low number of firearms per capita in Ecuador. Neighboring Colombia, which has a murder rate 500% higher than Ecuador’s, has 10 times more guns per capita.