What are chances of being murder victim?
This is not a story about how Mexico celebrates its Día de los Muertos ritual, or how Americans come here to retire . . . then forget to die.
The other day I came across the black-and-white details of how and where U.S. citizens meet their maker in foreign lands. You see, the U.S. State Department is required by law to report non-natural deaths by U.S. citizens in foreign countries.
Anyone who’s explored beyond the comforts of Western Europe knows our global village has some tough neighborhoods. In fact, in the two-year period of 2014-2015 exactly 1,723 unfortunate U.S. citizens “bought the farm” beyond U.S. soil.
The categories used to define the causes of non-natural death range from air accidents to suicide, drowning, terrorism, various shades of vehicular demise and, of course, homicide.
The report reveals that “most citizens who die abroad were residing abroad” without defining most. Let’s say a blessing for these unfortunate souls. We have no doubt lost some talented ambassadors of American goodwill. No one wants to die alone in a foreign land. So we can assume most victims knew some degree of die-where-you-live comfort.
All non-natural death spells tragedy. Let’s pray some fatalities were in the pursuit of happiness. Crossing a London street after a pint (then looking the wrong way), or a sunset booze-cruise man-overboard can at least be understood with a twinge of “oh well . . . .”
Mexico detractors will point out how more Americans die of non-natural causes in Mexico than any other country. This is true: 488 U.S. citizens were reported to have died of non-natural causes in the 24-month period 2014-2015. It’s 28.3% of the total body count.
Mexico also accounted for 50% of worldwide homicides involving U.S. citizens. But before anyone calls Bill O’Reilly and launches another Mexico travel boycott, a level-headed look at the figures is warranted.
Let’s not minimize how Mexico is in a war with narco-traffickers who covet transit routes to U.S. consumers. American guns, dollars and illicit demand are fueling a 10-year human tragedy which has snared thousands of innocent (and not so innocent) victims.
It shouldn’t surprise any American that 92% of U.S. homicides in Mexico happen in Mexico’s border states and/or regions rarely accessed by vacationers.
Headed on a beach vacation or to an inland big city? The State Department’s murder figures involving U.S. citizens for the same two-year period indicate one death in each of Los Cabos, Acapulco and Mexico City and two in each of Cancún, Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Maya, Guadalajara and Oaxaca for a total of 13.
There were 155 homicides of U.S. citizens elsewhere in Mexico.
I’m not a statistician, but my brilliant son Andy is! So I asked him: “On a typical day vacationing in a Mexico resort (over the next 24 months), what is the probability you will become a homicide victim?”
His calculation: 13 homicides in two years divided by 10 million beach visitors divided by 730 days equals 0.0000000178% probability.
I suspect this figure is right up there with being hit by lightning while being eaten by a shark . . . and riding a unicycle.
Yes, more Americans die of non-natural causes in Mexico — precisely because more U.S. citizens live here. The same is true of vacation tragedies, such as drowning or vehicular accidents. With over 13 million Americans having fun down south during 2014-2015, accidents are bound to follow, especially in a developing world setting where “personal responsibility” means “watch out” (and not “call your lawyer”).
So is Mexico safe? The million of us who call it home look at “safety” through a different lens. Is it safe to drive a car? Not entirely. How about riding a bike? Not really. Walking on sidewalks? Uh, often no.
Accidents happen, and some of us are luckier (and smarter) to avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s part of death and life in Mexico.
Greg Custer lives — and avoids accidents — in Ajijic, Jalisco.
– See more at: http://mexiconewsdaily.com/opinion/what-are-chances-of-being-murder-victim/#sthash.vJbzauSr.dpuf