Sunday, January 15, 2006

El Salvador's pain -- murder rate highest in Latin America

The statistics on the homicide rate in El Salvador in 2005 compared with the rest of Latin America are truly shocking. As reported today by La Prensa Grafica, the country's murder rate of 54 murders per 100,000 in population is by far the highest in Latin America. No other country has a rate higher than 40 per 100,000:

The causes are many -- gangs, poverty, the proliferation of guns, an ineffective court system, organized crime, family violence, and more -- and the solutions are elusive. The only thing which is clear is that this tragic situation requires efforts at all levels of society from the government, to the churches, to the schools, to the media, to business and community leaders.

The auxiliary bishop of San Salvador, Gregorio Rosa Chavez, declared today, that to solve the problem of the violence in El Salvador it will be necessary "to depoliticize it" and to see it in more global terms. "Laws we have enough, but there is not a culture of respect for the law, and when the approach in the law is repressive, it is a sign of weakness, a sign that that the law does not respect the person, that our laws do not show a belief that we are a rational people", the bishop said, in a press conference in the Metropolitan Cathedral. He added that "it is necessary to de-dramatize the subject and to de-politicize it, that is to say, to see it in more global terms, and to search for the types of politicians and types of policies we need to come out ahead".

Meanwhile Salvadoran president Tony Saca has presented a new initiative to the Legislative Assembly to "reform" the criminal laws to strengthen the sanctions against those who commit the crimes of extortion or kidnapping.

12 comments:

Miguel Lerdo said...

I’m not sure what Gregorio Rosa Chavez hopes to accomplish with his comments. He asks us to de-politicize the problem of crime in El Salvador and then offers the insightful recommendation that we see the problem in global terms and “search for the types of politicians and types of policies we need to come out ahead". Perhaps he is not specific about which politicians and policies would solve the problem because he doesn’t want to politicize the problem.

His comments criticizing the government’s repressive response are fine, but vague (perhaps he is vague to avoid looking political). However, what are needed are not vague accusations but good social science, specific policy proposals, and healthy debate. Having family who experienced government repression in the 1980’s, I am disposed to believe accusations of government repression today. However, it strikes me that no one seems to be making any efforts to document this repression.

One gets the impression from an earlier article cited in Tim’s blog that people like Matt Eisen and Antonio Rodriguez are encountering police repression on a daily basis. Maybe we should send these guys a video camera.

Notice that Nicaragua is not listed in the murder statistics. Nicaragua has much lower crime rate despite similar history and worse poverty compared to El Salvador. Has anyone seriously looked into the causes of this?

tony rochman said...

Chavez knows exactly what he is talking about. It's all about respect. People might follow laws out of fear but that can only go so far. Without respect, as Chavez was stating, people will take advantage the first chance they get and break the law because that's simply human nature. If they are not respected, they naturally and most certainly will not respect back. It's that simple. Besides, when people live constantly in such horrible conditions and in extreme poverty, what are you surprised that they act against the law? Being poor for so long can drive anyone crazy. If I lived my entire miserable life on a dollar a day in a smelly slum with no future and no hope, I'd most like pick up a machete and cut off some heads myself. It's only natural. The key is first and foremost education - look at Castro's policy of educating his people. Now that's smart.

Anonymous said...

One of the biggest problems is that the "people" that are now making decisions were not educated properly. The masses in El Salvador that are old enough to vote and make change went though the civil wars that required survival and let education go. Education and time will make a difference and nothing else will.

Anonymous said...

A murder rate of 54 per 100k to 40 per 100k is hardly higher "by far".

There's no way that Honduras has a lower murder rate than El Salvador anyway. The murder statistics constantly released for the country (which seem to fall anywhere between 30 and 60 per 100,000) fail to reflect the appalling mass killings in the city of San Pedro Sula.

It has the biggest mass shooting by a street gang I've ever seen (28 - compared to the 2nd placed Colombian city of Medellin with 16) yet the murder rate is lower than Rio de Janeiro's average...who's biggest street gang murder is a body count of 12.

There's been other mass shootings as well in San Pedro Sula but I don't know if it's street gangs or organized crime. A gun massacre of 28 by a youth gang suggests a far higher murder rate than 40 per 100,000 in a small nation of 7 million.

Aside from that, Colombia had over 18,000 homicides in 2005 though it has dropped significantly, and I'm pretty sure Brazil should be on that list as it had a striking 28 to 30 murders per 100,000 as recently as 2002 across a nation of 175 million.

Anonymous said...

The people of El Savador let the rest of Latin America down

Anonymous said...

I agree with this comment. I vote him for the next president

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous comment . I would vote him for president

Anonymous said...

i think that el salvador should shut the fuck up and stop crying

Anonymous said...

hahaha, except el salvador isn't whining -- people not from el salvador are.

weird, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

El Salvador is by far the most dangerous place to visit, and when you compare 54 to 40, it really is "by far" because it is for every 100K. Think about it, the US has a murder rate of 5 per 100K. El Salvador is infested with gangs everywhere. It is pathetic. Don't doubt these statistics. They are real. When the US keeps deporting MS gang members at an exponential rate to the country, how do you expect murder numbers not to rise?

Anonymous said...

I personally think that gangs are a disease, and if the government doesn't do anything about it, this disease will continue to spread and then there won't be cure. I think that salvadorans should take justice from their own hands. The model citizens that work hard for a living must do something, we dont want to inherit this disease to future generations.

Anonymous said...

my dad is from sonsonate, el salvador, my mom is from soa paulo, brazil and im from new orleans, louisiana. we come from the roughest parts of our countries. the reason crime is so high in these places is because our governments forgot about the people and theys topped helping us and started worrying about how fat their wallets are. high crime rates are a cry for better education, streets, government, and justice systems......and for all the people hating on el salvador, fuck off because we some fucked up ass niggas and we can up your cities crime rates if you want...wjen we move over there and do what my fellow katrina survivors did to houston and atlants, i dont want to hear you bitch and cry about the terrible el salvadorians who came in and fucked your shit up.