A Reporter’s Notebook From The World’s Deadliest City09:07
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A masked member of the 18th Street gang peers from behind a window of a prison door as other gang members give a press conference inside the San Pedro Sula prison in Honduras, Tuesday, May 28, 2013. (Esteban Felix/AP)
A masked member of the 18th Street gang peers from behind a window of a prison door as other gang members give a press conference inside the San Pedro Sula prison in Honduras, Tuesday, May 28, 2013. (Esteban Felix/AP)

NPR's Carrie Kahn just got back from a trip to Honduras — home to the world's deadliest city: San Pedro Sula, where more than 1,200 people were killed last year.

The Central American country is just bigger than Virginia, with a population of 8 million.

"Even when I was in Honduras, people were saying 'Oh you live in Mexico? Isn't it so dangerous and scary?'"

For years it has served as a gateway for South American cocaine traveling north to the U.S., and a breeding ground for gangs. Many gang members were deported from the Los Angeles area, where a lot of the gangs got their start, Kahn said.

"So you have a criminal element there, you have drug traffickers and you have geography, and then you also have a very weak government," Kahn said.

Kahn is based in Mexico City for NPR. Americans often regard Mexico as being dangerous, but it's actually far down on the list of most violent places, she said.

"My mother lives in Santa Monica, California, and she was so scared of me coming to Mexico to live," said Kahn. "It was just two weeks ago there was a gunman that was shooting people in her neighborhood, in Santa Monica, California. So violence is all relative. And in my neighborhood where I live, I walk around at night and I feel perfectly safe. In Mexico there are very dangerous pasts of the country. There are parts that are very safe. Even when I was in Honduras, people were saying 'Oh you live in Mexico? Isn't it so dangerous and scary?' So it is very relative where you are."

Guest:

This segment aired on June 19, 2013.

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