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While many may want to see St Vincent as a getaway destination, it is important to remember that like many other islands SVG is not merely a tourist attraction, but a living, breathing country with the same crime and violence that every other country in the world experience.
As in most other places, murders in the Caribbean are often linked to the drug trade and mostly confined to known trouble spots.
According to the latest statistics, Honduras, with 92 deaths per 100,000 populations, and Jamaica, with 40.9 homicides per year per 100,000 people, is among the nations with the highest murder rates in the world (although Jamaica’s homicide rate has declined somewhat in recent years).
In St Vincent, one murder is one too many, and we have reported 40 homicides as of 31st December 2016.
And while authorities state that many are gang and drug related, we as a people should encourage those elected to office to find ways to tackle such, thus saving our young children from a fatherless upbringing.
The nation of Saint Vincent do not produce guns, yet, most of these homicides are gun related. Official data for 2001 shows that the nation reported 12 murders or 11.1 per 100,000, where have we gone wrong.
How do these weapons get past our borders and into our communities? And, who are the ones facilitating such movements?
These are not just idle questions; they are necessary ones if we are to stem the tide of rising homicides within our nation.
So how do we stack up against other Caribbean countries, take a look at the statistics below?
- U.S. Virgin Islands: 40.5 murders per 100,000
- St. Kitts and Nevis: 38 per 100,000
- Belize: 30.8 per 100,000
- Trinidad and Tobago: 33.7 per 100,000
- Bahamas: 32.2 per 100,000
- Puerto Rico (a Commonwealth of the United States): 20 per 100,000
- Dominican Republic: 20 per 100,000
- St. Lucia: 25 per 100,000
- St. Vincent and The Grenadines: 36.6 per 100,000
- Grenada:7.5 per 100,000
- Dominica: 22 per 100,000
- Barbados :8.8 per 100,00
- Data Provided By UN statistics
The above list is incomplete: crime reports from some Caribbean nations fall under those of their parent nations, such as France or the Netherlands, and some nations may underreport or fail to report crime data.
According to the latest available data, the murder rate in the United States was 4.7 per 100,000 population.
Caribbean destinations with murder rates about the same as that in the U.S. (under 10 per 100,000) include Martinique, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, Guadeloupe, Haiti, and Turks & Caicos.
However, it is important to note that the United States is a much bigger country than any in the Caribbean, and there are many U.S. cities where the murder rate is equal to or higher than even the most violent nation in the Caribbean.
For example, the murder rate in St. Louis, Mo., is 59 per 100,000 residents; while the rate is Baltimore is 54 per 100,000 and the rate in Detroit are 43 per 100,000.
My hope for this new year is that citizens can work together to bring back a semblance of community togetherness, and most of all call on elected officials to put more effort in fighting the scourge of crime, that has put a different twist to our beloved paradise SVG.
The Murder rate is calculated by dividing the number of reported crimes by the total population; the result is multiplied by 100,000.