Belize recently broke its highest number of recorded murders. I believe the previous limit was 129 in 2010, and now we’re up to 133. The interesting thing about murder rates is that they’re determined per 100,000 people. There are only 356,000 people in Belize, which means we have approximately 37 murders per 100,000. We’ve averaged between two and three murders per week for the last year, and we still have two more weeks left, so I’m sure it will continue to rise.

That means Belize has now surpassed the 2010 rates of Washington, D.C., Oakland, Newark, Detroit and Baltimore in the U.S., and I generally don’t think of any of those places as vacation destinations. Only St. Louis and New Orleans had more intentional homicides.

In Belize, many deaths are gang related and confined to the crime-ridden capitol of Belize City. A story on local channel 7 today cited 74 murders in that city, which has a population of 53,000. Again, if you’re using the murder rate calculator, you would have to double the population to get the murder rate, which would then be around 140 per 100,000. That’d blow New Orleans out of the water, so to speak. Pretty scary.

Over half of our staff still lives in and commutes from Belize City even though the embassy moved to Belmopan six years ago. As recently as Thanksgiving Day, one of our employees was the victim of an attempted robbery, and a few others have tragically lost loved ones as a direct result of other people’s criminal activity. On a daily basis, I’m so happy that my family lives on a secure compound. But only a few of us are that lucky.

Our son’s nanny summed it up well the other day while we were discussing a recent revenge killing that had made the news. She said simply, “People in Belize don’t play.” She wasn’t kidding.