How Central America’s poorest country became one of its safest
Jan 28th 2012 | MANAGUA
LYING between Colombia’s coca bushes and Mexico’s cocaine traffickers, Central America is a choke point on the drugs trail. In 2010 the smugglers ensured that Honduras, El Salvador, Belize and Guatemala were among the world’s seven most violent countries. Costa Rica and Panama are richer and safer. But since 2007 their murder rates have respectively risen by a third and nearly doubled.
Amid this inferno Nicaragua, the poorest country in mainland Latin America, is remarkably safe. Whereas Honduras’s murder rate in 2010 was 82 per 100,000 people, the world’s highest in over a decade, Nicaragua’s was just 13, unchanged in five years. That means it is now less violent than booming Panama, and may soon be safer than Costa Rica, a tourist haven. What explains the relative peace?