An interactive homicide map of Guatemala City highlights value of life

Guatemalan journalist Claudia Méndez created a map of homicides in Guatemala to inform the public and illustrate that each person who dies violently there is important.

• A version of this post ran on the author's blog, The views expressed are the author's own.

During her year as a Latin American Knight Foundation Nieman fellow at Harvard, Claudia Méndez created an interactive map of homicides in Guatemala City. You can check out the visualization of the data as well as each murder victim's name at Una vida es una vida.

Claudia also sat down for an interview with the Tania Lara of the Knight Center. Here are two of the questions that stood out to me.

What was your goal in creating a site dedicated to homicides in Guatemala City?

The goal is to make a media coverage model that will allow for news outlets to record each homicide victim in the city. It's a way of showing that each person that dies violently here is important. Also, the goal is to create a space where citizens can talk about violence that affects their neighborhoods, work areas, commute areas, based on facts, real numbers, which will also allow for in-depth analysis.

What was the most surprising discovery you made while making these maps and gathering information about homicides in Guatemala?

Breaking myths with the certainty of data: areas that are usually tagged as violent, in reality only suffer from violence in specific sectors. To see, for example, that violence is sometimes framed in districts, when they are geographic "waves" that transversely cut across the map. I'm surprised with the phenomenon of injured in the violence, we tend to get surprised with the number of homicides, but the people that are injured in the attacks double this number.

INACIF or the PNC should have been providing this data already.
Thank you Claudia.

Mike Allison is an associate professor in the Political Science Department and a member of the Latin American and Women's Studies Department at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.  You can follow his Central American Politics blog here.

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