Crime, violence, and culture in latin america


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Guest Lecture for SYG3630 - Latin American Societies

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  • distinct concepts; not all crime is violent and not all violence is criminal. Some crimes—corruption, for example—are not violent in the strictest sense.9 Conversely, domestic violence in Latin America is widespread—as many as 40 percent of women in Latin America have suffered physical violence inside the home—but such actions do not constitute a crime in many countries. (Pillgram, 2003)
  • Crime, violence, and culture in latin america

    1. 1. CRIME,VIOLENCE,ANDCULTURE INLATINAMERICAStudies Rachel Mourao M.A. Latin American ’12
    2. 2. Topics How violent is Latin America? a) Crime X ViolenceVictimization: a crime as it affects one individual person or household. Costs: political and economical Organized crime Crime Culture a) Media b) Religion c) Pop Music
    3. 3. How violent is Latin America? It varies within countries, between countries, between regions Homicide Rates (per 100,000): Peru (3.8), Argentina (5.7), Chile (8.5), Costa Rica (7.6), Cuba (6.2) and Uruguay (5.5) have homicide rates that are comparable to that of the United States (5.6) Mexico (11), Panama (11.6), Nicaragua (13.2), Bolivia (14.9) Haiti (21.6), Brazil (26.6), Guatemala (36.4), Honduras (39.2), Venezuela (40), Colombia (50.4), Jamaica (51.6) and El Salvador (59) Central America: most dangerous region in the world ―Moisés Naím (2007) noted that in the four years between 2002 and 2006, 1,857 minors were murdered in Rio, compared to 729 Palestinian and Israeli minors who died as a result of violence during the same period. The streets in some Latin American cities, he concluded, have become more dangerous than war zones.‖ (Wood & Ribeiro, 2011) *Data sources: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC),Homicide Statistics (2004). Retrieved from:
    4. 4. How violent is Latin America?
    5. 5. Characteristics of crime in LatinAmerica Each region has its own specificities Multiple types of violence—focus groups in Latin America have identified as many as 70 different types of violent behavior (Prillaman, 2003) Homicide rates: higher in urban areas and border cities Organized crime: smaller networks
    6. 6. Costs of violence in LatinAmerica Economica) Foregone foreign investment, as business executives calculate that the costs of crime make expanding operations in the region prohibitively expensive.b) Reduced tourism, particularly in Central American and Caribbeanc) Reduced worker productivity through increased absenteeism and labor incapacityd) Increased insurance costs for firms operating in the region that leads the world in kidnappings-for- ransom cases.e) Reduced commercial transactions limited to certain neighborhoods or regions known to be safe.f) Mounting crime has forced the private sector throughout Latin America to turn to private security firms to protect physical property and business executives. Politicala) The delegitimization of state institutionsb) The public’s growing willingness to turn to heavy- handed or antidemocratic ―solutions‖c) The degenerative effects on civil society: fear of crime (Prillaman, 2003)
    7. 7. Organized crime FBI: ―organized crime is any group having some manner of a formalized structure and whose primary objective is to obtain money through illegal activities. Such groups maintain their position through the use of actual or threatened violence, corrupt public officials, graft, or extortion, and generally have a significant impact on the people in their locales, region, or the country as a whole.‖ Political-criminal nexus: relationships of various levels of collaboration between politicians and criminals at the local, national, and transnational levels (Gárzon,2008)Why?Simple exchange: criminals demand privileges and special treatment from the police and courts, and politicians ask for votes, money, or the elimination of their competitors. (Gárzon, 2008)
    8. 8. Organized Crime Entire sectors of the population have come to depend on the resources provided by criminal structures and by those hybrid actors, small or large elite groups, who are related to crime. Citizens have no other alternative than to submit to a political- criminal elite that manages and distributes favors and privileges. Criminal economies are globalizing: As world markets become increasingly open and borders become more blurred, criminal structures are also enjoying the benefits of economic integration. (Garzon, 2008)
    9. 9. Crime Culture in Latin America: MediaThe social construction of fear, more or less independent of the reality of crime, has been attributed to the media, which exaggerates the prevalence of criminality and is biased towards particularly gruesome images of crime.Crime on the Streets X Crime on TV: how are criminals, victims and the police portrayed in comparison to reality?Summer 2010: Manaus – AM, Brazil
    10. 10. ReligionSanta Muerte (Mexico) ―set of ritual practices offered on behalf a supernatural personification of death. The personification is female, probably because the Spanish word for death, muerte, is feminine and possibly also because this personification is a sort of counterpart to the Virgin of Guadalupe.‖ (Freese, 2010) PHOTO: ANGELOUX
    11. 11. Pop music“A corrido is a musical story taken from real life. It can be about a tragic accident or praising a person. A lot of songs used to be about migration and smuggling. Narcocorridos are based on cases related to drug trafficking [...] What happens is that the people in the cartels may be bad people doing bad things, but they also help people in the countryside, and give them what they dont get from the government. In the small ranches that they use for cultivation and packing, the capos make sure that people lack for nothing. So the people take care of them. For those people, there is no other option. The Mexican police are corrupt, they cant count on them for help.‖ (Gabriel Berrelleza, singer). ?v=wQXKSK3Jc_8&feature=re lated Brazil: ?v=521Cg_HvwNg&feature=fe edwll&list=WL
    12. 12. Final thoughts Who benefits from crime in Latin America? What would be an effective way (if any) to prevent youth choosing a criminal path? Mano-dura; War on Drugs; :effective responses? Should the United States (or NATO or UN) interfere in situations like Mexico/Colombia/Brazil?
    13. 13. ReferencesGarzón, G. V. (2008). Mafia & co: The criminal networks in mexico, brazil, and colombia Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.Prillaman, W. C. (2003). Crime, democracy, and development in latin america. Policy Papers on the Americas, 14(6), 1-30.Ribeiro, L., Wood, C. (In review) Crime, Fear, and Violence in Latin America: Issues, Data, and Definitions
    14. 14. More: Santa Muerte:,29307,1676932,00.h tml Narcocorridos: Music to Mexican Drug Lords’ Ears By Noah Shachtman Wired February 2011: UN Office on Drugs and Crime - Global Study on Homicide 2011: analysis/statistics/Homicide/Globa_study_on_homicide_2011 _web.pdf