It's Not Only In Your Country: Insecurity In Latin America

Issues such as the coronavirus pandemic, social outbreaks, and political crises could explain the rise in insecurity or the perception of insecurity in the region.

Man holding a gun while in the car

Insecurity has been damaging, to a greater or lesser extent, different Latin American nations that are currently experiencing a situation of quite dangerous instability. Photo: Pexels

LatinAmerican Post | Nicolás Donoso

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Leer en español: No es solo en tu país: la inseguridad en Latinoamérica

In recent years, Latin America has seen how the increase in violence has taken over various territories and has put the safety of thousands of citizens at risk. The political crises and social outbreaks that countries such as Colombia, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Honduras or Mexico have experienced, added to the general discontent of the people about the management that many of these nations have had during the coronavirus pandemic, could explain why the feeling of insecurity has increased in the region.

According to data from the Invamer survey (Research and Marketing Consulting) "Colombia thinks", 92.8% of the people surveyed indicate that insecurity in the coffee-growing country has been increasing. Going deeper into the report, in November 2020, 50% of citizens felt safe, but by April of this year, the number dropped considerably to 39.4%, decreasing by 10.6 percentage points in just a few months.

Having said the above, it should be noted that this is not a problem that only affects Colombia, but that it has been harming, to a greater or lesser extent, different Latin American nations that are currently experiencing a rather dangerous situation of instability.

Crime takes the streets of Santiago de Chile

Despite the fact that for the Intelligence Unit, The Economist, Santiago is the safest city to live in Latin America over large metropolises such as Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Bogotá, Mexico City, Quito, or Caracas, day after day in the Local media appear images and news of robberies, car thefts and discussions in broad daylight. This does not only occur in the most vulnerable sectors but in the more affluent cities of the Chilean capital such as Las Condes, Providencia, Vitacura, etc. All this despite the fact that in Chile a series of strategies have been applied to curb the flow of people's mobility during the pandemic, such as the curfew, dynamic quarantines, and the state of exception.

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The pandemic factor is undoubtedly a point to consider in the increase in violence. For Óscar Torrejón, an expert in citizen security and in statements to the Chilean media Anadolu Agency, the authorities are currently more aware of the control of COVID-19 than of other issues, leaving aside concerns such as the increase in crime.

Another situation that some people have tried to spread recently (without conclusive evidence) is that the abundant arrival of immigrants to the country and specifically to Santiago has brought with it an increase in citizen insecurity. This is denied by the data provided by the Jesuit Migrant Service, a network that works to protect the dignity and rights of immigrants and refugees in Chile. Their data indicate that in 2019, the percentage of the Chilean population that had committed some type of crime reached 4.1%, while the figure for foreigners was 1.4%.

Ecuador and Mexico fight to combat hitmen and murders

For Ecuador not only the health situation has been uneasy. The country is experiencing what has been called a rampant wave of homicides, with a rate of 7.7 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, numbers that are getting worse year after year (in 2018 the rate was 5.8 and in 2019 it was 6.9) and that is approaching one of the worst moments in the nation in this matter when at the end of the 90s the valuation was almost thirteen homicides for every one hundred thousand citizens.

Another headache for the current president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, has been the hitmen, which has gradually taken over the main Ecuadorian cities thanks to the networks that are being formed. The local prosecutor's office demonstrated that between 2014 and 2020, it has been found that of a total of 7,034 murders, 124 have been carried out under this way of operating, representing 1.7%.

In Mexico, the panorama is not very different, in a country involved in drug trafficking cartels, kidnappings, homicides, and organized crimes, according to the data provided by the Government's Ministry of Health (SSA), homicides were the eighth cause of death. death in 2020, with 36,579 deaths, among which dozens of assassinations are registered, which makes the figure even more shocking.

The insecurity that Latin America is experiencing is worrisome, increasingly repetitive, and must be studied and understood as a multisectoral phenomenon because it affects a large part of the countries of the continent, and as multifactorial because the causes that allow us to understand why it has come to this situation. Having enough tools to change the landscape is the main challenge for the authorities.