Title

Only Connect: the Survival and Spread of Organized Crime in Latin America

Author Information

Ivan Briscoe
David Keseberg

Date of Publication

2019 12:00 AM

Security Theme

Transnational Organized Crime

Keywords

Organized crime, transnational organized crime, Latin America, Guatemala, criminal violence, homicide, armed conflict, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, criminal organizations

Description

“Legend has it that Pope John Paul II, during his visit to Guatemala at the height of that country’s civil war in 1983, handed down a highly undiplomatic refrain to his official hosts: “you like to kill.” It is a conclusion that, decades on from the Cold War era of military dictatorships, left-wing revolutionary regimes, and embattled democracies, is still largely valid across Latin America, although for quite different reasons. This is the region of the world that is now least affected by armed conflict, yet most exposed to a daily dose of largely criminal violence. In 2016, 17 of the 20 countries and 43 of the 50 cities with the world’s highest rates of homicide—excluding those affected by armed conflict—were to be found in Latin America.1 In absolute terms, one in four global homicides occurs in only four countries: Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, and Colombia.2 This lethal yet commonplace violence is most closely associated with those countries saddled with the presence of vibrant criminal organizations, groups which are in turn associated in the minds of many Latin Americans with the spread of sinister tentacles across poor urban communities, peripheral rural areas, prisons, police forces, judges, eminences of the political establishment, and international bankers and lawyers. Crime no longer appears as a mere underworld, but has become a source of fear, resentment, popular entertainment and, perhaps most crucially, livelihood and opportunity; it has become a culture."

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Jan 1st, 12:00 AM

Only Connect: the Survival and Spread of Organized Crime in Latin America

“Legend has it that Pope John Paul II, during his visit to Guatemala at the height of that country’s civil war in 1983, handed down a highly undiplomatic refrain to his official hosts: “you like to kill.” It is a conclusion that, decades on from the Cold War era of military dictatorships, left-wing revolutionary regimes, and embattled democracies, is still largely valid across Latin America, although for quite different reasons. This is the region of the world that is now least affected by armed conflict, yet most exposed to a daily dose of largely criminal violence. In 2016, 17 of the 20 countries and 43 of the 50 cities with the world’s highest rates of homicide—excluding those affected by armed conflict—were to be found in Latin America.1 In absolute terms, one in four global homicides occurs in only four countries: Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, and Colombia.2 This lethal yet commonplace violence is most closely associated with those countries saddled with the presence of vibrant criminal organizations, groups which are in turn associated in the minds of many Latin Americans with the spread of sinister tentacles across poor urban communities, peripheral rural areas, prisons, police forces, judges, eminences of the political establishment, and international bankers and lawyers. Crime no longer appears as a mere underworld, but has become a source of fear, resentment, popular entertainment and, perhaps most crucially, livelihood and opportunity; it has become a culture."