Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Latin America: Homicide Capital of the World

Of course, we should be concerned. It is happening in our hemisphere, in the nations below the Rio Grande… extending into Central and even South America. The problem is crime, especially murder. As it happens, Latin American nations are now leading the world in homicide.

Other nations are trying to modernize. Other nations are working to provide for their citizens. Other nations are building up their industries and making their economies work. The nations of Latin America are doing nothing of the sort. They have become a mecca for crime.

Part of it must be cultural. The cultural habits that made the United States a great country are largely rejected and reviled throughout Latin America. These nations are so terrified of becoming like the United States that they have done everything in their power to be different. Call that my speculation, but you will see what it has produced, and not just in Venezuela.

It matters to us because the high crime rate has spurred immigration to the United States. People who have been victimized by crime are most likely to want to come to America. On the other hand, migrants head to the United States because they know that we have lax law enforcement, and that, once here, it will take considerable time and effort to send them back.

The larger issue is whether these migrants will adopt to American culture or whether they will bring their own cultural pathologies with them. Wanting to escape from crime does not mean that they are willing to adapt to American culture.

At the least, it seems clear that a smaller number of migrants from a specific place will assimilate more easily than will a larger number. If a large number of migrants from nation X  debark in America they will be more likely to stay together and to replicate the culture that they just left.

The Wall Street Journal reports on the problem:

There is a murder crisis across much of Latin America and the Caribbean, which today is the world’s most violent region. Every day, more than 400 people are murdered there, a yearly tally of about 145,000 dead.

With just 8% of the world’s population, Latin America accounts for roughly a third of global murders. It is also the only region where lethal violence has grown steadily since 2000, according to United Nations figures.

Nearly one in every four murders around the world takes place in just four countries: Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia. Last year, a record 63,808 people were murdered in Brazil. Mexico also set a record at 31,174, with murders so far this year up another 20%.

The 2016 tally in China, according to the U.N.: 8,634. For the entire European Union: 5,351. The United States: 17,250.

Here are some more statistics:

Latin America accounts for 43 of the 50 most murderous cities, including the entire top 10, according to the Igarap√© Institute, a Brazilian think tank that focuses on violence. South Africa and the U.S.—where St. Louis ranks No. 19—are the only countries outside Latin America that crack the top 50.

At current murder rates, if you live in Acapulco (or Caracas, Venezuela, or San Salvador) for 70 years, there is a roughly 1-in-10 chance you will get murdered.

Between 2000 and 2017, roughly 2.5 million people were murdered in Latin America and the Caribbean, as if Chicago were wiped out. That compares with about 900,000 killed in the armed conflicts of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan combined, according to U.N. figures and estimates by groups like Iraq Body Count.

During that same period, all the world’s terrorist attacks killed 243,000 people, according to the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database.

The Journal offers its own explanation:

Latin America was colonized violently and had bloody wars of independence. It has the world’s biggest gap between rich and poor, fueling resentment. Large parts of the economy are “informal,” street markets and family-run businesses that operate outside government control and pay no taxes, creating a culture of skirting the law. It has powerful groups of organized crime like Mexican drug cartels, and weak states riddled with corruption.

And also:

Demographics play a role: Latin America has more young people than most other regions, making for too many young men chasing too few quality jobs. And it has weak educational systems. Only 27% of Brazilians aged 25 or older have completed high school, according to government figures.

Much of Latin America also urbanized rapidly without services such as schooling and policing, creating belts of excluded groups around cities. Migration may have made matters worse. The percentage of single-parent homes in Mexico and Central America has grown rapidly over the past 20 years.

Organized crime doesn’t explain all the violence, however. In Colombia, for instance, it accounts for anywhere from a quarter to half of crimes, government officials estimate.

Latin America also has high rates of interpersonal and family violence. Colombian officials say the most murderous day of every year in Colombia is Mother’s Day, when revelers get drunk. Next on the list: New Year’s and Christmas.

How do you go about getting crime under control? Examine the way that Singapore transformed its culture in the 1960s.

In the 1950s, Singapore and Caracas had very similar murder rates, between 6 to 10 per 100,000 residents, according to Manuel Eisner, who studies historical levels of violence at the Violence Research Centre in Cambridge, U.K.

At the time, Singapore suffered from gangs, prostitution, drug trafficking and corruption. But after independence in 1962, authoritarian Lee Kwan Yew enforced rule of law, boosted education, and created a culture of working hard and achievement, and ensured social integration. “It wasn’t all coercion—there was a caring element,” says Mr. Eisner.

Nowadays, Singapore’s murder rate is 0.4 per 100,000 residents. In Caracas, the government doesn’t bother to count. The nongovernmental Venezuelan Violence Observatory estimates the country’s murder rate is roughly 110 per 100,000—about 34,000 a year.

You will, of course, tell yourself that you could not possibly live in a country like Singapore. It is notoriously tough on crime. It is also tough on everyday bad behavior, like spitting on the sidewalk. And yet, if you had to choose between Singapore and Venezuela, which would you select?


Jay Dee said...

The only caution when comparing statistics between countries is ascertaining that everyone is counting the same way. Britain only reports murder convictions. One can only imagine the bureaucratic legerdemain used to reduce this number. Yet a victimization survey a few years ago found the violent crime rate in excess of New York.

Anonymous said...

Let more in so they can kill us while our elite shrug in indifference. Sounds like there is no choice in the matter if you are not of a certain tribal affiliation.

Tonestaple said...

I shake my head as every big city on the west coast is determined to commit cultural suicide as well as the actual kind, at least according to your post. And given what goes on where I live, with the city government encouraging heroin use and treating it as if it were just another lifestyle choice, we can only expect to have more fine South American homicidal maniacs join us to supply our more ... odiferous ... citizens with their drugs of choice and to also provide human trafficking services that the rest of us are just too darned lazy to take on: doing the jobs Americans just can't be bothered to do.

Unknown said...

Hello sir, I'm brazilian and we are desperate for help. Our police officers are being killed, our childs are being killed and there is nothing we could do since the commies have take the power.

The problem is, as always is, the government. We live under communists dictators since the end of Brazilian military government. Back then, the militaries took the power to save our country from communism - the people, the Catholic Church, asked for help. But then, they left the power and the communists came back.

Recently, we had the Workers Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores - PT) and the violence rised, the economy went down the drain, the criminals took place and are treated like the real victims. I've grown up (I'm a 18 years old law student) living this nightmare; in the school (and in some colleges, thankfully not where I study), they are "heroes" - and we can't say that they aren't, some teachers even beat up students that say what PT really is.

I hope that Jair Bolsonaro will be elected our President this Sunday - if God have mercy on us and if PT doesn't fraud the elections like they did in 2014. He is the last hope for this f---ed up country.

Trust me, we are trying to get out of this mess. But they have the power and don't want to let it go.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank you, Priscilla, for contributing to the discussion.