As it has for almost a decade, Venezuela’s murder rate leads all South American countries. In fact, its rate of more than 81 homicides per 100,000 residents is the highest in the world, far ahead of El Salvador’s 51 and Honduras’ 40.
Trailing Venezuela in South America are Colombia and Brazil, both with murder rates of 25 per 100,000.
“At this point, due to economic and social order decline, Venezuela is essentially a failed state,” says InSight Crime, a company that tracks crime rates internationally. “The government does not have the resources or the will to combat crime, one of the reasons that millions of Venezuelans have left the country.”
InSight said the crime rates in Brazil and Colombia also present “enormous challenges” for government. “The numbers in both countries are rising and this could spell economic and social crises in coming years,” it says. InSight adds that large parts of Brazil’s major cities are “no man’s lands” and that as much as 12 percent of Colombia’s national territory is controlled by crime organizations, not the government.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the murder and violent crime rates in Venezuela, Brazil and Colombia are linked primarily to the illegal drug trade.
Murder rates for other South American countries, per 100,000 residents, are: Trinidad and Tobago, 37.5; Uruguay, 11.2; Peru, 7.8; Bolivia, 6.3; and Argentine, 6.2.
Chile, Paraguay and Ecuador had the regions’ lowest homicide rates in 2018 at 2.7, 5.2 and 5.7, respectively.