Small Wars Journal

Latin America is the World’s Most Violent Region. A New Report Investigates Why.

Latin America is the World’s Most Violent Region. A New Report Investigates Why. By Amanda Erickson – Washington Post

Latin America is home to just 8 percent of the world's population, but 33 percent of its homicides. In fact, just four countries in the region — Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela — account for a quarter of all the murders on Earth. Of the 20 countries in the world with the highest murder rates, 17 are Latin American, as are 43 of the top 50 cities.

Those startling statistics come courtesy of a new report from the Igarapé Institute, a nonpartisan think tank focused on Latin America.

The authors have spent some time trying to trying to understand all the reasons for the region's endemic homicide problem. They have teased out some possibilities.

To start: It is not that every part of Latin America is violent. There are pockets of the region, like the four countries above, where a disproportionate amount of homicides occur. Even within those countries, violent crime spikes in a handful of places. The researchers call them the “hot places and hot people.”

Latin America is particularly susceptible to pockets of crime because of its speedy urbanization. Its cities grew faster than in most other parts of the world during the past 50 years, according to the Economist. By 2000, three-quarters of the population lived in towns and cities. That is about double the proportion in Asia and Africa…

Read on.