Murder in El Salvador

Salvadoran papers report today that the director of the Police (PNC) and the Attorney General's office have a dispute over the murder statistics in the country. The Attorney General's office reports that murders in the country have been averaging 10 per day, while the PNC maintains that the average is only 7 per day.
La Prensa Grafica reports that there were 2,621 murders in 2003 and already 2,744 in 2004.

Regardless of which set of statistics are used, the numbers reflect the ongoing problems with violent crime in El Salvador. 2,621 murders in 2003 translates to a murder rate of 39.7 per 100,000 population, which compares to an overall US murder rate of 6.1 per 100,000 in 2000, but is comparable to US cities such as Washington D.C. and Detroit which both had murder rates above 40 per 100,000 in 2002.

The driving factor in the El Salvador murder rate is gang violence and the proliferation of fire arms. The PNC reports 674 murders in inter-gang disputes so far this year. Young men are the predominant victims of murder in El Salvador. No doubt the same factors of poverty, gangs and unemployment which drive crime in America's inner cities lead to the depressing statistics from El Salvador.