Latin America has suffered more than 2.5m murders since the start of this century and is facing an acute public security crisis that demands urgent and innovative solutions, a new report warns.
“The sheer dimensions of homicidal violence are breathtaking,” says the report by the Igarapé Institute, a Brazil-based thinktank focused on security and development issues.
Latin America suffers 33% of the world’s homicides despite having only 8% of its population. One-quarter of all global homicides are concentrated in four countries – Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela – all of which are gearing up for presidential elections in which security is a dominant theme.
The report lays bare how young Latin Americans are disproportionately affected, with nearly half of all homicide victims aged 15–29. It also denounces the “astonishingly” large role of guns.
Muggah said: “In addition to having these exceedingly high, epidemic levels of homicide, the vast majority of these homicides are committed with firearms. Over 75% of homicides are gun-related.” The global average is about 40%.
In Brazil, far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, an early presidential frontrunner, has vowed to relax gun-control laws. “We must give everyone the right to carry a gun, just like in the US,” he told O Globo this week. “We already have a ‘bang-bang’ going on in Brazil but only one side is allowed to shoot.”