October 23, 2020

Latin America paying heavy economic price for “epidemic” violence

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images-Caribbean-gangviolence_852203646By Ulric Rindebro – From BNAmericas

The Latin American and Caribbean region has established itself firmly on the international stage during the last several years with high levels of economic growth and financial stability as well as making some progress in terms of poverty and inequality reduction.

However, taken as a whole the region carries a heavy burden of violence, registering more than 100,000 homicides per year, says UN agency UNDP in its Regional Human Development Report 2013-2014. “Most countries in the region have homicide rates which are much higher than for other regions and which are considered to be at epidemic levels by the World Health Organization.”

Between 2000 and 2010, the murder rate in the region grew by 11%, whereas it fell or stabilized in most other regions in the world, the report points out. “In the last decade, more than one million people have died in Latin America and the Caribbean as a result of criminal violence. Moreover, considering the countries for which data is available, robberies have almost tripled over the last 25 years.”

ECONOMIC IMPACT

Besides killing massive numbers of people and making even more feel highly insecure, Latin America’s elevated levels of violence is also holding back the development of the region’s economies and taking its toll on GDP.​

UNDP estimates that the cost of crime and violence as a percentage of GDP (in 2010) was as high as 10.5% in Honduras and 8.7% in Paraguay.

In the region’s more secure countries, this cost is still significant with the UNDP estimating it to be 2.52% of GDP in Costa Rica, followed by Uruguay (3%) and Chile (3.3%).

The cost of crime and violence is based on costs related to the anticipation of crime, the consequence of crime and the response to crime.

REGIONAL AND DOMESTIC DIFFERENCES

The report points out that the deterioration of security in Latin America and the Caribbean has not been a uniform phenomenon.

In some countries, lethal violence is what most affects the population, whereas in others murder levels are relatively low but the sharp increase in crimes against property has triggered a public perception of insecurity. “Meanwhile, within these countries the situation varies greatly, with some municipalities, states or departments showing indicators comparable to those of European nations, and others where lethal violence is even greater than in countries at war.”

The report also notes that countries in the region show large deficits in capacities concerning justice and security, which are reflected in alarming levels of impunity, the crises in their prison systems and the feeling of mistrust citizens harbor regarding the institutions of justice and the police. “In light of these deficits, privatization of security has gained momentum, which deepens inequality in access to security and leaves unsolved the challenges the state faces as the main guarantor of citizen security.”

Given the dire state of citizen security in Latin America and the Caribbean, the UNDP says it is “not surprising” that this issue reverberates in the heat of electoral campaigns and has become the number one public concern in many countries.

For more on this story go to:

http://www.bnamericas.com/news/insurance/latin-america-paying-heavy-economic-price-for-epidemic-violence1

 

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