Homicides Epidemic in Latin America and the Caribbean

Reply Tue 19 May, 2015 01:44 pm
I'm interested to discuss the causes of this. Poverty, culture, crime, drugs, gender, politics? Was sensitized to it by a trip to Belize, where the issue is linked to the global drug trade, but also to a tendency by parents and educators to de-emphasize formal education for boys.


First, some numbers: In 2012, 437,000 people were killed worldwide, yielding a global average murder rate of 6.2 per 100,000 inhabitants. A third of those homicides occurred in Latin America and the Caribbean, home to just 8% of the world's population. In Brazil, murder is the leading cause of death for young men, while in parts of Europe violent death is a rare and shocking anomaly.

To make this data clear and to begin to understand the dynamics beneath it, the Rio de Janeiro-based Igarapé Institute has created an interactive map, the Homicide Monitor, which brings together all publicly available information on homicide in 219 countries. "A better diagnosis of the scale and scope of homicide can help design prevention and reduction measures," says Robert Muggah, the research director and program coordinator for Citizen Security at Igarapé. "Homicide is a problem that can be solved if we start treating it like a public health issue."

Data on violent death can be difficult to obtain, since governments are often reluctant to share their homicide statistics. What data is available is sometimes inconsistent and inconclusive. "Information on lethal violence is dispersed and often not comparable," says Muggah.

Relying heavily on data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the map tracks the total number of homicides and murder rates per country, broken down by gender, age and, where the data is available, the type of weapon used, including firearms, sharp weapons, blunt weapons, poisoning, and others.

For the most violent region in the world, the 40 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, you can also see statistics by state and city. That geographic specificity helps to underscore an important point about murders, says Muggah, whose previous work has involved tracking gangs on social media and in the real world. "In most cities, the vast majority of violence takes place on just a few street corners, at certain times of the day, and among specific people."


Homicide Monitor:
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Reply Tue 19 May, 2015 02:42 pm
Checking in, no immediate opinions, but your Belize observation makes sense, that it's not just one thing going on.
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Reply Tue 19 May, 2015 03:11 pm
I'm curious why they clump all of Latin American and the Caribbean together. There are such enormous differences between individual countries inside that grouping.

There's certainly a huge problem in some countries in those regions.
Reply Tue 19 May, 2015 07:02 pm
The reason for such lumping might be that the data used in the map comes from the UN, which lumps the Caribbean islands and LA together in one of their worl 'regions'. Another reason could be linked to the same causes leading yo yhe same effects. Countries like Colombia, Mexico and Jamaica share in a sort of panamerican gang culture, with rap and raga as cultural vehicle. The drug trade is another possible reason. The cocaine cartels are exporting violence in the whole neighborhood.
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Reply Tue 19 May, 2015 08:42 pm
Was there just a glitch on this thread? I was responding to Olivier, to a later post of his that I can't see now, and ran into Topic Not Found/several tries.

Never mind, I can access the thread now - maybe it was my own lovely computer or fat fingers.
Reply Wed 20 May, 2015 06:08 am
I posted something yesterday and it was full of mispells and unclear so i pulled it down and reworked it a bit. Here it is:

In Belize, the relation between boys and school is complicated by 1) the Catholic Church dominating the education sector, which means that the State has very little control over the curriculum and enrollment -- the religious schools tend to expel boys much more than girls because their are more unruly; 2) the fact that single mothers dominate the demographics in deprived neighborhoods and their tendency to scholarize their daughters more than their sons, who are better at bringing some money home; 3) the fact that girls DO NEED an education to get a job in Belizean society (often in the civil service, or the school system) while boys will raise or fall largely based on other factors (family wealth, connections, business orientation, street smarts, physical strength...).

The small business community and the crime world (there's a continuum between these two, with lots of economic crimes) are dominated by men, while the public sector is staffed predominently by women.

In this context, a poor mother's decision to invest good money into her daughter's education but ask her son to fend for himself in the streets and bring back some dow, that decision makes perfect economic sense, in terms of better return on investment.

But it does nothing to solve the problem. Many boys get out of school early and the poorest fall prey to gangs. Kids not even 10 years old are thrown in the deep end of an hyper-violent gang culture. Horrifying stories of kids being murdered, of kids killing others, or killing themselves to avoid it all...

I was left with the impression of a divided society, struggling to maintain common ground, where hyper-violence is a manifestation of inequalities and a failed public education system, aggravated by a macho culture and the global drug trade. This in a country that looks like paradise most of the times / places.

Parts of Mexico seem to be going this way too.
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