Ecuador’s murder rate continues to drop, according to the country’s Interior Minister Diego Fuentes, who expects the 2016 rate to be the lowest ever.
According to Fuentes, this year’s homicide rate is five per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 6.4 in 2015. The rate should give Ecuador the second lowest murder rate in Latin America, trailing only Chile. Bolivia, which ranked second in 2015, with a rate of 5.3, is expected to see an uptick in murders per capita in 2016.
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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.
He said these improvements have not only prevented crime, but resulted in higher conviction rates for criminals. “We are getting the bad people off the streets,” he said.
InSight Crime, an international clearing house of crime statistics, says Ecuador’s homicide rate improvement is the best in the world over the past 10 years. In 2006, it stood at 19.8, four times higher than the projected 2016 rate.
Murder rate projection for 2016 for other Latin American countries include 26.5 per 100,000 in Colombia, 11.5 in Panama, 12.5 in Mexico, and 11.5 in Costa Rica.
Among Ecuador’s largest cities, Cuenca and Loja have the lowest murder rates, at about three per 100,000. Quito’s rate is 6.6.