The Northern Triangle is becoming less murderous

But that will not be enough to curb emigration

Published in The Economist

For the young man from Baracoa, in the north of Honduras, it was the sister he lost—kidnapped and never heard from again. For a family from Tegucigalpa, the capital, it was the neighbours: two young brothers, killed for refusing to join a local gang. Speak to enough migrants from Central America’s “Northern Triangle” of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala and it quickly becomes apparent that everyone has a story. There is always someone. And anyone could be next.

Even by the dismal standards of Latin America, violence in the Northern Triangle is both horrific and endemic. Médecins Sans Frontières, a charity, last year described the experience of people living in its three countries as “not unlike that of individuals living through war”. More than 7,000 lives were lost to violence in Honduras in 2011, about the same number as in Syria, which had more than twice as many people and was stumbling into civil war. That year Honduras had the highest homicide rate of any country not at war, at 86 per 100,000 people. The number in Mexico, itself extremely violent, was 20.

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