29 murders in Cali´s six-day fair dramatic ´good news´, statistically speaking


(Photo: David Hogben) Street-level drug operations like this one operating a block away from the Feria de Cali during its six-day-festival have the run of the neighbourhood, featuring lookouts on every corner, prostitutes bringing buyers to the woman with cocaine-based products under her box of Chiclets. Robberies of drunk sex and drug clients were plainly visible as were threatening, sometimes violent confrontations among street-level criminals.

(Photo: David Hogben) Street-level drug operations like this one operating a block away from the Feria de Cali during its six-day-festival have the run of the neighbourhood, featuring lookouts on every corner and gender-bending sex-trade workers bringing buyers to the woman with cocaine-based products under her box of Chiclets. Robberies of drunk sex and drug clients were plainly visible as were threatening, sometimes violent confrontations among street-level criminals.

That Cali was marred by some 29 murders during its rocking six-day salsa festival, in a bizarre fashion, is good news. Cali´s murder rate  plunged 45 per cent during the festival in 2013, compared with the same six-day party in 2012.

A rare, full-city gun ban gets a lot of the credit for the 24 fewer murders during the Feria de Cali this year.

Cali has been out of step with the rest of Colombia where murder rates have been falling. Cali´s murder rate has increased dramatically and that prompted the city´s Catholic archbishop, the city ombudsman and the major to join forces in an all-out drive for a gun ban for non-military and non-police persons.

The military has the final say, and they allowed only a partial gun ban – which did not include some wealthier and financial districts – from mid-December to the end of January. But the military allowed for the full-ban during the salsa festival.

”I would’ve preferred that during December the restriction would cover all districts, but we’re making progress,” said Cali Mayor Rodrigo Guerrero.

The reduction in murders was just as dramatic for the month of December, when 100 fewer people were murdered. The number of murders fell to 136 in Cali in November 2013, down 42 per cent from 236 in December 2012.

¨We hope that we can maintain this falling rate next year,¨ said Cali Metropolitan Police Coronel Hoover Penilla in a report by newspaper El País.

He also credited arrests of many gang leaders, who hold some responsibility for the large number of lifes wasted in inter-neighbourhood battles to control street sales of illegal drugs.

The dramatic reductions in Cali´s homicide rate allowed it to show an overall increase of six per cent in 2013, when 1,962 people were murdered compared with 1,839 in 2012.

Many Colombian cities are succeeding in lowering murder rates.

Bogotá, for example, reported a homicide rate of 16.4 murders per 100,000 persons in 2013, it´s lowest rate in 30 years.

Though a United Nations report issued this week found Colombia still rates among the five most dangerous nations for murder. In addition to Colombia, the report also placed El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica and South Africa among the worst five countries for murder.

Colombia had a rate of 38 murder for every 100,000 residents in 2013. The danger was its gravest in Cali, with a rate of 67 murders for every 100,000 residents. A total of 17,198 people were murdered in Colombia in 2013.

For more information please read, in Spanish: http://historico.elpais.com.co/paisonline/notas/Septiembre132008/inter8.html

In English: http://davidhogben.com/2013/12/24/cali-prepares-for-salsa-festival-celebrates-first-day-without-a-murder-in-more-than-2900-days/

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About Connecting Colombias

Recently retired newspaper reporter with one foot in British Columbia, Canada, the other in Colombia, South America. Fascinated with Colombian culture, Canadian connections, and heroic efforts to return millions of displaced Colombians to lands stolen by paramilitaries, guerrillas and organized crime.

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