Report from a murder capital

I’m writing this from one of the world’s most dangerous cities. Last night at 7:30 pm, a gunman sprayed bullets at a crowd, killing four and wounding at least five people. The initial belief is that it was drug-related, but investigators are pursuing all leads. An AK-47 may or may not have been used.

“All l I saw was bodies dropping,” said one witness. “It was like Vietnam.”

Welcome to Washington DC. According to Kevin Casas-Zamora of the Brookings Institute, Mexico had a homicide rate of 11.5 people per 100,000 in 2008. Washington DC, by comparison, had a rate of 31 per 100,000.

Andres Oppenheimer cited Casas-Zamora’s research in a recent column, and quoted him saying the following: “In [Mexico] as a whole, [the homicide rate] doesn’t come even close to Washington, D.C.’s.”

Of course, comparing a country with a city is like comparing apples and oranges, and most experts don’t like to do that. But maybe they should: they’re both fruits, and the homicide rate is calculated per capita, so it shouldn’t really make all that much difference.

PS – Ciudad Juarez is still far more dangerous than DC. With about 130 homicides per 100,000, according to some calculations, it is definitely worse than Washington DC.

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