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2.5 Million Murders in 16 Years: Latin America’s Crime Wave

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At least 2.5 million people have been murdered in Latin America in just sixteen years (between 2000 and 2016), representing 33 percent of the world’s homicides—despite having only 8 percent of its population, a new report by the Brazilian Igarapé Institute has revealed.

The report, titled “Citizen security in Latin America: Facts and Figures,” which was released today, calls the region of the Caribbean, Central and South America the “world’s most homicidal” place.

“The overall trend right now in Latin America is one of increasing homicides and deteriorating security,” said Robert Muggah, one of the report’s authors.

“Latin America is a large area and there are lots of variations. But as a region – including Mexico down to Central America and South America – the rate of homicide is set to continue increasing up until 2030. The only other places we are seeing similar kinds of increases are in parts of southern and central Africa and some war zones.”

Nearly half of all homicide victims are aged 15–29, and the report reveals what it calls the “astonishingly” large role of guns.

“In addition to having these exceedingly high, epidemic levels of homicide, the vast majority of these homicides are committed with firearms. Over 75 percent of homicides are gun-related.” The global average is about 40 percent.

Other facts revealed in the report include:

– Over the past decade Latin America´s regional homicide rate has increased 3.7 percent a year, three times the population growth rate of 1.1 percent.

– Latin American´s regional homicide rate is roughly 21.5 per 100,000, more than three times the global average.

– Given current trends, Latin America´s homicide rate is expected to reach 35 per 100,000 by 2030.

– At least 17 of the top 20 most homicidal countries in the world are located in Central America, the Caribbean and South America. The region is still the world’s most murderous in 2017.

– Homicidal violence is highly concentrated in the region with Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela accounting for 1 in 4 homicides globally.

– More than 141 of Latin American cities (52%) of the total, register homicide rates above the regional average (21.5 per 100,000).

– As of 2016, 43 of the 50 most homicidal cities in the planet were located in Latin America.

– Most victims of homicide are male. In Latin America, at least 80% of all murder victims are male as compared to a global average of 74%. In South America the proportion rises to 88% and in the Caribbean 83%.

– he proportion of homicides involving firearms is exceedingly high in Latin America – 67 percent of murders in Central America, 53 percent of murders in South America and 51% of murders in the Caribbean. The global average of firearm-related homicides is 32 percent.

– Gang-related violence plays a disproportionate role in homicides across Latin America (26 percent of all known cases) as compared to Europe or Asia.

– South America has the highest level of reported physical assaults and violent robberies in the world.

– There is an exceedingly high rate of impunity associated with homicide in Latin America. Roughly 80 percent of European homicides are “solved”. In Latin America, the proportion drops to around 50 percent, and even as low as 8 percent in some countries.

The report does, as is to be expected, ignore the obvious relationship between race and crime—and in this specific case, the relationship between mixed-race populations and crime (as mixed race populations always have a higher crime rate than homogenous populations of any single race).


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