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Avoiding the Perfect Storm: Criminal Economies, Spoilers, and the Post-Conflict Phase in Colombia

Juan Carlos Garzón-Vergara

  • 21 February 2018
  • Posted by: Nicolas Devia
  • Number of views: 1338
Avoiding the Perfect Storm: Criminal Economies, Spoilers, and the Post-Conflict Phase in Colombia

The possibility of ending the armed conflict in Colombia will depend, to a large extent, on the state’s ability to prevent multiple criminal economies, and inhibit the actors who participate in them from damaging the implementation of the final peace agreements. This article analyzes criminal economies’ ability to destabilize and thereby damage the post-conflict phase, and identifies dilemmas the state must confront in responding to this situation. The article’s objective is to provide an analytical model to understand the complex relationship between actors involved in the peace process and criminal economies, and to thereby identify risks and possible models for intervention. The theoretical referent of this work is the discussion about peacebuilding in fragile states and literature that identifies organized crime as a spoiler. This is the first attempt to apply this perspective to Colombia, and to take the particular characteristics of the country into account while making comparisons with other countries that exhibit similar features in their own post-conflict and transitional phases. The article comes to the conclusion that in Colombia it is necessary to consider Interim Stabilization Measures, which allow the state to provide an effective response that takes advantage of
available resources without losing sight of the need to strengthen local institutions in the mid-term.

Explaining Patterns of Urban Violence in Medellin, Colombia

Caroline Doyle

  • 20 February 2018
  • Posted by: Nicolas Devia
  • Number of views: 1340
Explaining Patterns of Urban Violence in Medellin, Colombia

Latin America is one of the world’s most violent regions, with 40 of the 50 most violent
cities, but with only 8% of the world’s population, and a staggering 33% of global homicides.
At the forefront of these high levels of violence are gangs that are more flexible and persistent than
previously thought. This paper provides a discussion on gangs in one Latin American city, Medellin,
Colombia, where different non-state groups have contributed to changing patterns of homicide rates.
The paper presents preliminary findings to show how, despite the city experiencing a 90% reduction
in homicide rates in less than 25 years, violent non-state groups have become embedded as part
and product of their environment, acting as coherent, logical and functional players, linked to the
structural inequalities and institutional fragility of the larger society.

Targeting Violence Reduction in Brazil: Policy Implications from a Spatial Analysis of Homicide


  • 25 January 2018
  • Posted by: Nicolas Devia
  • Number of views: 1198

Poverty, segregation, inequality and lack of access to public services combine in Brazil, resulting in a grave situation of violence in one of the fastest growing countries on Earth. “Targeting Violence Reduction in Brazil: Policy Implications from a Spatial Analysis of Homicide” is a report produced by the Latin America Initiative of the Brooking Institute that seeks to identify the impact of public policies in homicide rates, using Brazil as a case of study. Going even further, the report has as an objective to provide a guide on how to modify existing policies for them to be more effective using evidence-based methods. Ingram and Da costa provide evidence on how poverty reduction programs have a direct impact on the reduction of violence in the communities where this sort of projects are applied. Also, they emphasize on the need to prioritize hot-spot policing over other types of policing due to its effectiveness shown in reality.

The authors develop their study by desegregating Brazil into its respective municipalities, building a new map of homicides in the country. What the map shows in a first instance is the unequal distribution of violence between municipalities and the influence that a predominately violent municipality could have on its neighbors. Data showed that violence spills out of the municipalities into the bordering regions. The most visible evidence of it is the cluster of violent municipalities at the East Cost of Brazil: from Rio de Janeiro to the State of Ceara at the North of the mentioned coast. All violent crimes studied (homicide of males, femicide, homicide of young population and homicide of black people) have a remarkable high rate in that area. This phenomenon can also be seen in the state of Para and Mato Grosso.

When analyzing the types of homicides to define hot and cold spots of violence, gender plays an important variable: municipalities considered as cold spots for homicides to males or youth population are however hot spots for femicides. Still, in broad terms males are the ones most involved in violence and homicides as the data shows. The role of women in preventing violence is prevalent corresponding to the evidence: while families where the mother is both responsible for the children and working are more prone to be involved in violent situations, those who receive monetary incentives from the government constitute a source for stability and economic revival for their municipalities. Programs such as “Bolsa Familia” are then a model to follow in poverty and violence prevention as they are for social inclusion and equality.