City and business leaders are reacting angrily to Guayaquil’s listing among the “50 most violent cities in the world” announced Sunday by the International Security, Justice and Peace Council.
“Since this information is distributed worldwide it will have a negative impact on business in the city, particularly tourism,” said Carlos Sevillano Páez, a security and law enforcement consultant to Guayaquil municipal council. “It appears that the list was compiled based on news headlines and not on actual statistics.”
Although the list is compiled annually by the Security Council, it is the first time that an Ecuadorian city has been included. Among the 50 most violent cities on the 2022 list, are 18 in Mexico, 11 in Brazil, seven in the United States, four in Colombia, four in South Africa and two in Honduras. Guayaquil ranks 50th on the list.
According to Páez, the criteria for the rankings is “vague and unexplained” and does not seem based on actual murder rates. “It is a fact that Guayaquil has seen an increase in drug-related murders recently but we do not rank among the world’s top 100 cities for murders,” he said. “We are not sure what process the Council used in compiling the list and are demanding clarification.”
Guayaquil Mayor Cynthia Viteri says the ranking will have a negative effect on tourism and demanded Monday that the national government invest more resources to address the city’s rising crime rate. “I have no control over the illegal drug business and the riots in the prisons and cannot control the borders to stop firearms from entering the country,” she said. “This is a problem that must be faced and paid for by the government in Quito.”
Viteri agreed with Páez that the ranking is unfair. “We are not in the league of cities in Mexico and Colombia that have murder rates 10 times higher than ours,” she said. “It also does not recognize the fact that almost all the murders are in one neighborhood, Guasmo, and involve criminals working in drug transport. The list also appears to count the murders in Duran, which is another city.”
In November, the U.S. State Department warned travelers of the high crime rate in Guayaquil, Manta and Esmeraldas. Several European countries have issued similar alerts.
In a list released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes in February, Cuenca and Loja were included among the top 10 Latin American cities with the lowest murder and violent crime rates.