Why Latin America is the world's most violent place in 2021/2
Updated: Dec 29, 2022
Latin America has been facing skyrocketing levels of crime and violence for many decades — and still continues to in 2021
What is causing such high levels of crime and violence in Latin America and how can it be addressed?
Latin America has been notoriously plagued with extremely high levels of crime and violence, with a homicide rate that is among the highest in the world. Despite various measures implemented by former governments, including strict security policies, poverty levels remain high and cause police corruption. The region's political instability does not help either.
To tackle this crisis, a comprehensive approach must be taken to address all underlying causes of crime and violence throughout Latin America - from unemployment issues to inequality gaps to an ingrained culture of impunity. Here's how we can effectively reduce crime and violence in the region.
For over a decade, Latin America's homicide rate has been at least three times the global average. Why has the rest of the region failed to grasp these lessons?
Latin America is where most murders in the world happen.
The region is highly urbanized, with roughly 85 percent of people living in cities and this has an important role in Latin America's levels of violence. Across the globe, homicidal violence tends to be hyper-concentrated in peripheral urban areas experiencing chronic disadvantage.
Cities, especially fast-growing ones, offer certain intrinsic opportunities for criminal activity (anonymity, for instance, prospective victims and dilapidated infrastructure), compounded by economic neglect and scarce basic services.
Many factors contribute to Latin America's homicide problem, among them the war on drugs, abundant unlicensed firearms, persistently unequal gender relations, and in Mexico and Central America, thousands of marginalized uprooted and sometimes convicted U.S. deportees.
1. High Crime Rates: In Latin America, crime rates are among the highest in the world, and this contributes to a culture of violence throughout the region. High levels of poverty often lead to desperate measures such as robbery or drug trafficking, perpetuating a cycle of criminal activity.
Additionally, there are areas in some countries where gangs and drug cartels have become powerful forces that further contribute to violence and insecurity.
2. Corruption: Political corruption is rampant in many Latin American countries and many politicians use their positions for personal gain at the expense of public security.
This lack of trust in government institutions contributes to political instability, making it more difficult to tackle underlying causes of violence like poverty or inequality.
3. Lack of Education: Many Latin American countries suffer from low educational attainment rates as well as a lack of access to education in rural areas.
Partly as a result, economic opportunity remains very limited in these areas and can fuel resentment or desperation that leads to violent behavior.
4. Gun Control Laws: The majority of Latin American countries have weak gun control laws which means that it is easy for criminals to acquire firearms that facilitate their violence-related activities.
These firearms are also often used by citizens who feel they need something physical to protect themselves from criminals operating with impunity across the region.
5. Poor Governance: In many places across Latin America, governments do not appropriately enforce rule of law or sufficiently invest in public safety initiatives like adequate police force levels or alternative prisons rehabilitation programs for petty offenders or youthful offenders whose actions tend toward non-violent crimes rather than major felonies requiring long-term incarceration.
This contributes significantly towards an atmosphere conducive to greater violence within society at large because those with criminal leanings seek out favorable conditions wherein they can conduct their illegal activities without sufficient repercussions from law enforcement authorities when caught.
6. Cultural Factors: There exist additional factors pertinent to understanding the higher levels of societal violence across Latin America such as machismo culture and gender inequality;
Both cultural norms can foster an environment where violent behavior is seen as acceptable by significant sectors within society while also contributing influences regarding expectations regarding status quo roles pertaining to gender relations between men and women throughout the region respectively also leading to increased incidences resulting from domestic harassment/abuse towards women specifically during 2020/2021
Inequality is high on that list. Latin America is home to ten of the world's 15 most unequal countries, and while the relationship between inequality and violent crime is not causal, there is evidence of a strong correlation.
About Crime Indices
Crime Index is an estimation of the overall level of crime in a given city or country. We consider crime levels lower than 20 as very low, crime levels between 20 and 40 as being low, crime levels between 40 and 60 as being moderate, crime levels between 60 and 80 as being high, and finally crime levels higher than 80 as being very high.
The safety index is, on the other way, quite opposite of the crime index. If the city has a high safety index, it is considered very safe.
Crime and the Coronavirus in Latin America - Update 2020
According to the Strifeblog Organization the COVID-19 pandemic not only represents a global public health crisis but has also created serious political and security challenges. In Latin America, legal and illicit economies alike have been hit hard by a massive slowdown in global production and consumption, leaving most organized crime groups unusually vulnerable and exposed. These conditions offer opportunities for governments to deal a considerable blow to these criminal networks that wield enormous amounts of power in their territories.
However, evidence from the region shows that criminals are rapidly adapting to the challenges of the pandemic and are in fact taking advantage of the overwhelmed state authorities to consolidate their power.
Lockdown measures have led to a general reduction in street crime and robbery as criminals become more conspicuous and their targets more scarce. El Salvador, the country with the highest homicide rate in the world, reported two days without murders immediately following the imposition of obligatory quarantine measures.
Lockdowns and border closures have also created new illicit business opportunities. The closing of borders on key migration routes has increased the demand for human smuggling services – and their profitability.
The National Uniform Crime Report is published annually by the FBI and includes the crime index. The report includes a variety of criminal statistics
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