Contexts of Exclusion,
Insecurity and Violence

There is a Connection Between Contexts of Inequality and Social Exclusion and Contexts of Violence

Inequality, low social mobility, employment uncertainty, and the intergenerational transmission of poverty continue to be major problems in the Americas.

Macroeconomic figures show positive overall outcomes, but the distribution of wealth, access to basic quality services, and the enjoyment of rights point to profound differences and inequities among groups and segments of the population.

Factors Conducive to Contexts of Violence

The increase in violence, insecurity and crime undermines confidence in the workings of democratic institutions and their capacity to stand up to and address this phenomenon, and it has led to social demands for hardline policies.

The increase in violence is due to a number of factors:

Organized Groups

The existence of organized groups with links to illicit or criminal activities from which they profit, such as drug trafficking, arms trafficking, human smuggling and trafficking, extortion, and so on.


Easy access to firearms and the large number of them in the hands of private individuals.

Inequalities and Social Exclusion

The inequalities and social exclusion faced by certain groups and segments of the population.

Lack of Real Opportunities

The lack of real opportunities for youths and adolescents.

Social Legitimization

The "social legitimization" of criminal groups in instances in which they assume control over and de facto management of an area.

Institutional Weakness

Institutional weakness, especially among the police and in the justice system.


High levels of impunity in the investigation and punishment of crimes.

No Social Reintegration

The scant capacity for the social reintegration of inmates shown by the prison system in general and by the juvenile justice system in particular.

State Institutions

The ability of organized crime to permeate and co-opt State institutions.

Photo credit: Daniel Cima for IACHR

Homicides and Violent Deaths

Some countries are hit more intensely by the scourge of violence, particularly in countries along drug trafficking routes and in many large cities throughout the Americas due to the presence of armed organized crime groups.

36% of the violent deaths

12% of the world's population

More than one third of the violent deaths in the world occur in the Americas, which accounts for only 12 percent of the world's population. The annual rate of violent homicides in the Americas is greater than 30 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. According to the WHO, homicide rates of over 10 per 100,000 qualify as epidemics.

329 homicides each day

The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have together lost more than 1.2 million people to homicides in a single decade: an average of more than 100,000 victims per year. Organización de los Estados Americanos y el Programa de Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (OEA-PNUD, 2011), Nuestra Democracia, Fondo de Cultura Económica, México, pág. 182.

68 adolescents and young people are killed every day

Homicides have become the leading cause of death among the male adolescent population in several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Photo credit: Daniel Cima for IACHR

47 out of 50 of the Deadliest Cities in the World are Located in the Americas

19 are in Brazil, 10 in Mexico, 5 in Colombia, 4 in Venezuela, 4 in the United States, 3 in South Africa, 2 in Honduras, 1 in El Salvador, 1 in Guatemala, and 1 in Jamaica.

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There is a pattern of a higher concentration of violent crimes and homicides in big cities.

What these cities have in common is that they have grown rapidly and chaotically; they have areas or districts with only precarious infrastructure; and they lack or have very limited access to basic services.

Poor and Marginal Neighborhoods

Marginal, poor neighborhoods with limited access to basic services and little government presence are most heavily impacted by insecurity and violence.

The following factors set the stage for the emergence and expansion of criminal organizations:

Low levels of development

Lack of opportunities

Dearth of institutional presence

The activities of these armed criminal groups further jeopardize the situations in which residents of these neighborhoods live, and expose them to constant violations of their rights by these groups but also by State security forces.

Photo credit: El Confidencial