Thursday, July 11, 2019

Central America is the world's most dangerous region to live in (July 11, 2019)

Murder rates are far higher than armed conflict casualties worldwide, according to the newest United Nations' Global Study on Homicide. And Central America is the world's most dangerous region to live in -- homicide rates rise in some “hotspots”, to 62.1 per 100,000 people. The global average is 6.1 per 100,000 people, and the average in the Americas is 17.2 -- the highest recorded in the region since reliable records began in 1990. The total number of murders in the Americas, 173,000 in 2017 was also the highest in the world – 37 percent of the global total in a region that accounts for only 13 per cent of the world’s population.  

Some key findings:
  • The report notes that in the region "high homicide levels are clustered, with some local populations facing homicide rates comparable to death rates in conflict zones and others having a negligible risk." Interestingly, homicide rates actually dropped by an average of 29 per cent in the Americas' 17 largest cities, while national homicide rates rose by 2 percent. "These figures suggest that the increases in homicidal violence reported in some countries in the Americas have happened outside the big cities."
  • Teens in the Americas face a disproportionately high risk of becoming homicide victims: According to data from 15 countries in the region in 2016, the homicide rate for adolescents aged 18–19 years was 46 per 100,000 – far greater than in other parts of the world. Young men aged 15–29 years in the Americas are also disproportionately affected by homicide in comparison to their peers in other regions and worldwide
  • In the Americas, firearms were involved in roughly three quarters of homicides in 2017, which accounted for more than one quarter of the homicides worldwide that year.
  • El Salvador tops national homicide rates with 62.1 per 100,000. It's followed by Venezuela with 56.8 and Honduras with 41.7.
  • The study notes fluctuations in Central American high-homicide country rates, which "mainly serve to illustrate the unpredictability of homicide perpetrated by gangs and organized crime groups active in the subregion."
  • An entire section of the report focuses on femicides, the gender-related killing of women and girls, sussing out the difficulties of detecting and defining the category. Nonetheless, the news is not good: "Countries in Latin America have adopted legislation that criminalizes femicide as a specific offence in their criminal codes. Yet there are no signs of a decrease in the number of gender-related killings of women and girls."
  • Igarapé Institute contributed a part on hot-spot policing as a successful violence reduction public policy.
News Briefs

More murder
  • Police killings have reached record rates this year in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro state, according to a new study by the Observatório da Segurança RJ. Since January -- which coincides with the first six months of the current government in Brazil and Rio de Janeiro -- police killed 731 people in the state, an average of 121,8 victims per month.
  • Brazil's Chamber of Deputies approved a landmark pension reform bill yesterday by a far wider margin than predicted, a significant victory for President Jair Bolsonaro. (Al Jazeera)
  • A new generation of prominent Brazilian leftists and activists are seeking exile -- this time they are fleeing death threats from rightwing extremists and Bolsonaro supporters, reports the Guardian.
  • The Intercept released an audio of Lava Jato prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol celebrating a judicial ban on former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's interview with Folha last year. "Now let's not brag about it, let's keep it quiet, to avoid disclosure as much as possible, because the earlier it is released, the sooner the opposition will be able to fight it before it goes to plenary," he said in an audio to the corruption task force. It's the latest in a series of revelations that indicate political partiality in the landmark investigation. (Folha de S. Paulo)
  • Bolsonaro's attack on social sciences and the humanities is part of a broader attempt to the racial status quo intact, argues Rodrigo Serrao in Nacla.
  • Norway-mediated talks between Venezuela's government and political opposition this week in Barbados concluded yesterday with no announcement of a deal, reports Reuters. President Nicolás Maduro's representatives said the meeting was a "success," without more detail, reports Efecto Cocuyo. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Senior diplomats from the United States and Russia met in Helsinki, but failed to reach common ground on the Venezuela issue -- among the many driving a diplomatic wedge between the two countries, reports the Associated Press. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov emphasized the importance of the Norway talks in resolving the Venezuelan crisis. (TAAS) He also denied that Russia has troops on the ground in Venezuela.
  • Venezuelan credit holders pushed back against opposition leader Juan Guaidó's proposal for restructuring the country's debt after an eventual change in government, reports Reuters.
  • U.S. sanctions aimed at pushing Maduro out have instead worsened the country's humanitarian crisis, putting it at risk of "humanitarian catastrophe," writes economist Francisco Rodríguez in a New York Times op-ed. "Famines do not topple dictatorships. They only lead to loss of lives."
  • Latin American response to the Venezuelan migration crisis has been largely positive, despite the intense impact on countries with already strained resources. But signs of strain are increasing, writes Javier Corrales in Americas Quarterly. In a world more accustomed to crackdowns on migrants, Latin America's response has been overall positive, both on a legal level, popular response, and survival services provided. "Fortunately, the region is protected by pro-immigrant international norms, strong civil organizations and sympathetic politicians."
  • Three transgender women have been murdered in Honduras over the past week -- one of the victims was a journalist, reports the Washington Blade.
El Salvador
  • Three police officers in El Salvador have been charged with the murder of a transgender woman who was deported from the U.S. earlier this year, reports the Washington Blade.
  • A teenage rape victim who served a three-year sentence for aggravated murder in El Salvador after a stillbirth has been granted a retrial. The case is emblematic of how the country's restrictive abortion law is used to persecute women for obstetric complications, say advocates. (Reuters)
  • Faced with an unyielding dictatorship, young Cubans have chosen to leave the island in droves. The result is the region's most elderly population. The alternative is to keep pushing from change, and slivers of civil society are starting to find spaces to express dissent, writes Abraham Jiménez Enoa in a New York Times op-ed.
  • The United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM) is investigating allegations that a reporter for its TV Marti service, mandated to broadcast objective news into Cuba, faked a mortar attack during a televised report from Nicaragua, reports Voice of America.
  • Colombia's government has failed in its obligation to protect demobilized guerrillas, said a FARC political party lawmaker in a complaint to the Attorney General's office. 140 former fighters have been murdered since laying down arms after the 2016 peace deal, and 31 family members, he said. (EFE)
  • A Mexican judge ordered the arrest of a prominent attorney on charges of organized crime and money laundering. Lawyer Juan Ramon Collado, who has represented important politicians, is accused of creating front companies to handle money from questionable land deals, reports the Associated Press.
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is emphasizing oil over alternative energy sources, chilling the country’s up-and-coming renewable energy market, reports the Los Angeles Times.
  • Argentina hasn't had a non-Peronist president finish a term in nearly a century. (It's not really the Peronist's fault, the democratic failures preceded the movement by a couple of decades.) The last president to abruptly finish his term was Fernando de la Rua, who dramatically left the Casa Rosada in a helicopter in 2001. He died this week of cardiac arrest, a symbol of the failure of moderation in Argentina. (Washington Post
  • "His legacy is having invalidated the path of moderation for those who followed and continue today," who instead seek to fan the flames of polarization, writes Marcelo García in a New York Times Español op-ed
  • Some 17,000 Walmart Chile workers walked off the job, yesterday, after collective bargaining negotiations with the retailer collapsed, reports EFE.

Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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