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Inicio arrow Análisis arrow Latinoamérica arrow Political Situation in Latin America: August 2014

Political Situation in Latin America: August 2014 PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Sep-02-14 - by Rosendo Fraga

1. A study conducted by Gallup International shows that Latin America is the most unsafe region in the world in terms of crime. The study is based on the trust in the local police, the perception of safety among the population and the incidents referred to as robberies and murders. The study was conducted based on face-to-face and telephone surveys between 2009 and 2013, with 1,000 adults over the age of 15 in each country. According to the "Public Safety Index", of the ten most unsafe countries in the world, eight are Latin American. The country assessed as the most unsafe in the world is Venezuela, where only 19% of adults claimed to feel safe walking at night through their neighborhood, 74% distrust of police and 22% said they suffered a theft or have a family member who was stolen money in the last twelve months. According to the study, eight Latin American countries and the Caribbean that comprise the 10 countries most unsafe in the world account for 36% of homicides in the world, although they only have 8% of the population according to the information of 2012. The paradox of Venezuela is that it is the most militarized country in Latin America today. More than half of the Ministers are military men on duty and more than half of the local governors are retired from the military. The situation has become very critical and in the last days dismembered corpses appeared in Caracas, allegedly as a result of the fight among drug cartels.

2. The study shows a close correlation between human development and personal insecurity. The USA, Canada, East Asia and then Europe, in this order, are described as the safest places. The paradox is that regions of the world with strong political, ethnic, religious and ideological violence, as are the broad Muslim world countries, are safer than Latin America. Africa has fewer violent robberies and murders in relation to the population even though Latin America has a lower poverty rate than Africa, but greater inequality, being in this way, the most unequal and unsafe. After Venezuela, Bolivians, Paraguayans, Peruvians and Dominicans are those who claimed to feel more unsafe in their countries, despite an improvement in the perception of security of the population between 2009 and 2013 in Bolivia and the Dominican Republic. In terms of less dangerous Latin American countries, the best perception of safety was in Nicaragua, followed by Panama, Chile, Uruguay and Ecuador. This country recorded the biggest improvement in this field. In this study, Argentina is in eighth place, in the middle of the table of results, the first being the safest of 18.

3. Coincidentally - although with nuances - the third chapter of the UNDP Regional Human Development Report records a similar trend. According to this study, presented in November 2013 based on data collected in 2012, the most unsafe country by number of homicides per 100,000 inhabitants is Honduras with 86.5. It is followed by Venezuela with 50, El Salvador has 41.2, Guatemala, 38.5, Colombia with 32 and the Dominican Republic, 25. The three countries in the so-called "North Triangle of Central America", from where illegal minors unexpectedly arriving in recent months in the US, are among the four most unsafe in the region along with Venezuela. In the seventh and eighth place are Mexico with 23.8 and Brazil with 21.5, respectively. These two countries account for almost two thirds of the total population of the region, with similar levels of homicides and are positioned in the middle of the table. Panama continues with 20.7, Ecuador with 17, Paraguay with 10.7, Peru with 9, Costa Rica with 8.8 and Nicaragua with 8.7. The four countries of Latin America with fewer homicides are in the Southern Cone: Bolivia (8.4), Uruguay (6.1), Argentina (5.8) and Chile (2). These are the Latin American countries with the best index of human development in Latin America, raising as a general hypothesis that the greater the human development (education, health, etc.), the safer the country should be. This report shows the difference between data and perception. In Honduras, the country with more homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, 8 out of 10 claim to feel safe in their neighborhoods; instead, in Chile, which has the lowest rate, only 7 out of 10 claim to feel safe in their neighborhood. According to this study, Latin America is the only region in the world where homicides have increased, as in the rest it has declined or remained the same. Some 100,000 people each year are killed in the region, and between 2000 and 2010 the figure amounted to one million. Above 10 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, the World Health Organization considers it an epidemic problem and this is the situation for 11 of the 18 Latin American countries among which the study was conducted.

4. In terms of the percentage who suffered violent thefts, the results do not show exactly the same trend as homicides. Those who have suffered violent thefts personally or at the family are 66.8% in Honduras, 64.83% in Venezuela - both have a record both in violent homicide and robbery-, 55,91% in Guatemala, 52.37% in Colombia and Ecuador, 50,36%. At an intermediate level are Nicaragua 45,69%, Brazil has 45,53%, Panama 44,19%, El Salvador 44.02%, Argentina 42,95% and Dominican Republic 40,97%. Countries with less population affected by robbery with violence are Costa Rica (38.9), Paraguay (37.1), Peru (36.6), Mexico (36.21) and Bolivia (34,72) and the best two due to low rates are Uruguay (19.76) and Chile (13.77). The two countries with highest number of homicides per inhabitant are the same with more violent thefts in the same order (Honduras and Venezuela); the two with lowest homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants (Chile and Uruguay) occupy almost the same position in terms of violent thefts (first and third respectively). But there are complex cases as Argentina: second out of 18 for its low homicide rate but is eighth in violent thefts.

5. To conclude:

a) The Public Safety Index drafted by Gallup International shows Latin America and the Caribbean are the world’s most unsafe region in terms of crime.

b) The study shows a close correlation between the level of human development and safety.

c) The chapter on “Public Safety” of the UNDP Human Development Report also confirms Latin America is the most unsafe and unequal region.

d) In Latina America, Honduras, Venezuela, Guatemala and El Salvador are the most unsafe countries although not so much in terms of perception of safety.

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