Citizen Security in Latin America - UNDP
Despite social and economic advances in the last two decades, Latin America is still the most unequal—and the most insecure region in the world.
Despite social and economic advances in the last two decades, Latin America is still the most unequal—and the most insecure region in the world. Citizen insecurity thwarts human development in the region, which recorded over 1 million homicides from 200-2010, according to a new UN Development Programme (UNDP) report launched in New York Tuesday November 12th. Rapid urban growth and changes in family structure are factors influencing crime, says UNDP's report, which stresses that even though there is no single magic solution, there are remedies. Long-term state policies to improve citizen security, placing women and youth at the heart of responses and including local communities in decision-making are a few key steps. " Human development cannot take place without citizen security," said UN Assistant-Secretary-General and UNDP Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Heraldo Munoz in the video. Young Latin-Americans, especially males, are the most affected by crime and violence and yet are the most common perpetrators. Giovani is a former gang member in San Salvador the capital of El Salvador. He says he was drawn to the gang because, like many of his friends, he views the group as his supporting family. Now Giovani is learning new skills in a vocational training project. "Our beneficiary profile is usually young Salvadorians, most of them male, between 16-24 years old who neither work nor study. Often they haven't explored all the skills they possess," says programme officer Daysy Rosales of UNDP's Youth Entrepreneurship in Safer Cities project. Even Chile, Latin America's country with highest Human Development Indicator, suffers from violence and crime, with high insecurity perception rates. Moreover, crime and violence cost the country 3.32% of its GDP or US$7.2billion (2010). Chile has implemented a long term preventive security plan in 2000, with police building relationship with local community members. Chile's Plan Cuadrante, or City Block Plan has been emulated in Colombia and Guatemala. Boosting citizen security entails learning from the region's own lessons, but it demands political will and vision and a long-term state policies.