Randolph Roth says that Juárez murder rate like that of civil war

Historians in the News

The murder rate in Juárez rivals the most dangerous cities in the world and is more typical of regions where government has collapsed, an expert on homicides said.

The number of murders in Juárez is more typical of regions during a civil war, a revolution or other form of a state breakdown, said Randolph Roth, a historian who studies homicides.

"Whenever you have a real struggle for power -- civil wars, revolutions -- organized gangs can get very, very bad like you have in Juárez today," Roth said. "It's very rare to see the rates like this in a developed country. It's very sad."

Roth is a professor of history and sociology at Ohio State University who created a historical database examining U.S. homicide rates from different time periods and places. He is author of the book "American Homicide."

Roth said the worst period for homicides in the U.S. was during Reconstruction in the Red River Valley of Louisiana, which had a murder rate of at least 196 per 100,000 per year from 1866 to 1876.

"You had the former Confederates. And the Ku Klux Klan were just in rebellion against the government," Roth explained. "You didn't have a central government."...

A public opinion poll last November by the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez showed that 97 percent of the population felt unsafe and that 52 percent disapproved of and distrusted all Mexican authorities.

"Ultimately what builds a sense of patriotism and fellowship is feeling a sense of connectiveness with your neighbor (and) that your government does care for your concerns and builds stability," Roth said.
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