The extent to which criminal entities exert control is often in direct proportion to the relative fragility of state institutions. Where public authorities are unable to exert a monopoly over the use of force, criminal actors step in. This Homicide Dispatch critically examines the relationships between organized crime and lethal violence. In the process, it shines a light on the challenges facing public authorities intent on fighting crime. Owing to the inherent weaknesses of many governments across Latin America, they have only limited ability to reduce homicidal violence. It is only by shoringup the state’s ability to guarantee fundamental rights that meaningful improvements will be possible.
The first section compares the homicide rates across different regions and countries with an active organized crime presence. The goal is to identify factors that distinguish Latin America from other parts of the world including the (high) presence of firearms in homicide and the low levels of criminal prosecution for capital crimes. Section two examines how criminal networks explain the rise and fall of homicidal violence. The last section undertakes a cursory review of state measures to combat and contain organized crime and gangs, highlighting the negative consequences of overtly repressive approaches. A key conclusion is that homicide reduction measures are unlikely to succeed unless the legitimate authority of the state is established to guarantee and protect basic rights.
|Juan Carlos Garzón-Vergara