Friday, 10 July 2009
Homicide Levels in Sinaloa
Noroeste.com.mx (July 10) contains an article describing the number of homicidio dolosos (murder with intent) in Sinaloa since 1994. (http://www.noroeste.com.mx/publicaciones.php?id=491352) I first became aware of the incredible level of violence in Sinaloa in 1998. That was the first year that I taught a course in a Master’s Degree program at la UAS-Sinaloa. Administrators at the Centro de Readaptación Social del Estado de Sinaloa (CEDJUDE —what a great name for a prison complex) invited me to give a talk to police candidates in training. After that presentation during which I had made reference to Canada's low homicide rate, one of the trainees asked “Could I explain why there 640 murders in Sinaloa last year?”. Initially, I wasbaffled, but managed to stumble through the standard sociological answer and traditional list of etiological factors. I did emphasize the “ready availability of heavy-duty weapons” in Sinaloa and talked about Canadian gun control regulations. The cadet didn’t care much for my answer, and proudly announced that he believed that the level of violence was the product of "a hot climate"! (By the way, the adjusted temperature in Sinaloa today is 48 Celsius- close to a 120 F.) I told him that I just didn't believe that this was the reason, and scrambled to provide an answer, and could only point out that many places in the world had high homicide rates now or in the past —and they were situated in cold climates. I remember mentioning that Chicago used to have a very high murder and violent rate and that cities like Detroit were also known as Murder City. I told them that temperature was only one factor and probably should be considered as a minor contributor.
Someone took my picture with that police academy class. I often wonder how many of those cadets were assassinated, whether any had been tortured and decapitated by the cartels, how many fled the country for fear of their life, how many ended up working for the narcos, and how many are in prison?