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In Mexico, armed gangs of rival drug smugglers have been fighting it out with one another, thus creating new hazards in rural areas. Crime is extremely high in all of the major cities in Brazil. Wealthy citizens have had to provide for their own security. In large parts of Rio de Janeiro , armed criminal gangs are said to be in control.

Organized Violence

Crime statistics were high in El Salvador , Guatemala and Venezuela during The police have not been able to handle the work load and the military have been called in to assist in these countries. The year low in murders came the same year that the Colombian government signed a peace agreement with the FARC. Crime is slowing economic growth and undermining democratic consolidation in Latin America. The Inter-American Development Bank estimates that Latin America's per capita Gross Domestic Product would be twenty-five percent higher if the region's crime rates were equal to the world average.

Public faith in democracy itself is under threat as governments are perceived as unable to deliver basic services such as public security. A United Nations report revealed that only 43 percent of Latin Americans are fully supportive of democracy.


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As the Economist magazine described it, "in several Latin American countries, will be remembered as the year in which the people rose up in revolt against crime. Massive street marches such as those that took place in Argentina , Mexico, and Brazil , and other expressions of protest against violence, have made it increasingly difficult for politicians to avoid dealing with the issue and, in many countries, have made tackling crime a central theme in political party platforms across the region. Another reason critics believe fuels crime in Latin America is due to the poor public primary education system they say it "has given rise to youths without jobs or expectations of employment-thereby fueling the mounting problem of gang violence in Central America, Mexico, Jamaica, Trinidad, Colombia and Brazil.

A series of factors have contributed to the increase in violent crime in Latin America since the transitions from authoritarianism to democracy. Some intrinsic factors and characteristics of each country aggravated the problem in some countries. However, some factors might have increased the risk of crime and violence in many or most countries in the region in the period between the s and s: [4].

Brazil is one of the countries that has the largest inequality in terms of the gap between the very wealthy and the extremely destitute. A huge portion of the population lives in poverty.

Dealing with the Challenges of Political Violence and Crime in Latin America

According to the World Bank, "one-fifth of Brazil's million people account for only a 2. Brazil is second only to South Africa in a world ranking of income inequality. There were a total of 63, murders in Brazil in Carjacking is also common, particularly in major cities. Criminals often use guns. Crime levels in slum areas are very high. During peak tourist seasons, large, organised criminal gangs have reportedly robbed and assaulted beach goers. Petty crime such as pickpocketing and bag snatching are common. Thieves operate in outdoor markets, in hotels and on public transport.

Piracy occurs in the coastal areas of Brazil. Elements of all the armed groups have been involved in drug-trafficking. In a country where the presence of the state has always been weak, the result has been a grinding war on multiple fronts, with the civilian population caught in the crossfire and often deliberately targeted for "collaborating".

Fractured Cities Social Exclusion, Urban Violence and Contested Spaces in Latin America

Human rights advocates blame paramilitaries for massacres, "disappearances", and cases of torture and forced displacement. The administration of President Uribe has sought to professionalize the armed forces and to engage them more fully in the counterinsurgency war; as a result, the armed groups have suffered a series of setbacks. Common criminals are now the perpetrators of the overwhelming majority of kidnappings.

By the year , the number of kidnappings in Colombia had declined to and it continues to decline. Colombia registered a homicide rate of Violent crime is rampant in El Salvador, in the homicide rate peaked at homicides per , residents. In early , there were on average of 16 killings per day but in late March that number dropped to fewer than 5 per day and on April 14, for the first time in over 3 years there were no killings in the country.

Violent crime including armed robbery, banditry, assault, kidnapping, sexual assault, and carjacking is common, including in the capital, San Salvador. Downtown San Salvador is dangerous, particularly at night. San Salvador hosts some of the most notorious unified crime family transnational gangs that spread across the Central American heart region, like the Mara Salvatrucha and the 18th Street gang that arrived during and since the Salvadoran Civil War. The security situation has taken a downturn in San Salvador; in , there were over intentional homicides in the city of San Salvador by international global Central American Gangs or Maras.

Crimes have increased to 13 daily, with this sharp increase having occurred in the last six years, making the words San Salvador City synonymous with crime. The portrayal of San Salvador was a dark and foreboding metropolis rife and reign with crime, grime, corruption, and a deep-seated sense of urban decay, ultimately a vice city. San Salvador is a rampant and recurring corruption within the city's civil authorities and infrastructure. Certain locations disputed by rival gangs especially in poor slums on the outskirts areas of San Salvador City are labeled as No man's land.

High-level corruption in El Salvador is a serious problem.

President Mauricio Funes pledged to investigate and prosecute corrupt senior officials when he took office in June, , but after a political truce with his predecessor, Antonio Saca , who was expelled from the ARENA party amid large-scale corruption allegations, Funes showed an unwillingness to tackle the problem. Embassy in San Salvador of widespread abuse of power for personal financial gain. Such corruption, the U. Embassy reported in a cable leaked by WikiLeaks , "went beyond the pale" even by Salvadoran standards. Crime is a major problem in Honduras , which has the highest murder rate of any nation.

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This is significantly higher than the rate in El Salvador , which at According to the International Crisis Group , the most violent regions outside of the major urban areas in Honduras exist on the border with Guatemala , and are highly correlated with the many active drug trafficking routes plying the region. Crime is among the most urgent concerns facing Mexico , as Mexican drug trafficking rings play a major role in the flow of cocaine , heroin , and marijuana transiting between Latin America and the United States.

Drug trafficking has contributed to corruption , which has had a deleterious effect on Mexico's Federal Representative Republic. Drug trafficking and organized crime have also been a major source of violent crime in Mexico.

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Mexico has experienced increasingly high crime rates , especially in major urban centers. The country's great economic polarization has stimulated criminal activity in the lower socioeconomic strata, which include the majority of the country's population. Low apprehension and conviction rates contribute to the high crime rate.

Before the drug war in Mexico, there were roughly murders in the border city of Ciudad Juarez in In , state officials reported a peak of 3, homicides in the city. With a rate of murders per , residents, Ciudad Juarez alone had the highest murder rate in the world, [ citation needed ] although the rate has steadily decreased since then to reach only murders in Puerto Rico has become a major transshipment point for illegal drugs that are smuggled from source countries like Colombia and Peru into the U.

Most of it is transported to and through the island from drug trafficking organizations in the Dominican Republic , Colombia, Florida, and criminal organizations in Puerto Rico. It is the busiest port in the Caribbean and the second busiest in Latin America. Because drugs are trafficked directly into the island from other source countries, they are less expensive than in any other place in the United States.

Thus, it is cheap and easy for street gangs to buy and deal to the public mostly in, and from, housing projects, leading to turf wars and the second highest homicide rate in the United States. Police undermining in the drug trade and corruption are also common. Between and , 1, police officers in Puerto Rico lost their jobs from the department due to criminal charges and between and , 75 officers were convicted under federal court for police corruption. Venezuela is among the most violent places in Latin America.

Class tension has long been a part of life in the South American country, where armed robberies, carjackings and kidnappings are frequent. Venezuela was ranked the most insecure nation in the world by Gallup in with the United Nations stating that such crime is due to the poor political and economic environment in the country. Crime rates are higher in 'barrios' or 'ranchos' slum areas after dark.


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    Eduardo Moncada: "The Politics of Resistance to Criminal Victimization"

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