Homicide rates by state in Brazil, from Spain’s El País. Blue is worsening, orange is improving.
One forgets that Brazil’s homicide rate is slightly higher than Mexico’s, and that several of its states match Colombia or Guatemala (mid-30s).
Great photoset of Rio de Janeiro’s transformation by Mauricio Lima in the New York Times.
Private security guards outnumber police or military in every Central American country. In some, they outnumber police and military combined.
Graphics borrowed from the just-released Public Security Index [PDF] for Central America, produced by the Buenos Aires-based Latin America Defense and Security Network (RESDAL).
They did a great job on this report, it’s a very highly recommended download.
Five Latin American countries appear in this CNN Money chart of the world’s top holders of U.S. debt. Brazil is number 5 in the world — 3 if you don’t count “Caribbean Banking” and “Oil Exporters” as countries.
Here the center — including the president — must negotiate with the owners of power out in the regions. The state has never been able to exercise normal control over large parts of the country, and that creates an enormous vacuum, where there’s a lack of law, public policy, infrastructure. … This country functions in a very particular way. For example, in La Silla Vacía there was an article about how last Christmas President Santos went to Cartagena to eat sancocho with Piedad Zuccardi. Everyone knew that she was in trouble with the law. So, what was the President doing with her? The answer is that he was insuring his power in Bolívar department. Another example is the late Víctor Renán Barco. In Bogotá, he’d go around with The Economist under his arm, but in La Dorada he was the classic incarnation of a vote-buyer. I find this paradox very interesting, and it could be the origin of a response to the question of why Colombia never gets out of its troubles. — Great interview in the Colombian newsweekly Semana with Harvard’s James Robinson, co-author of Why Nations Fail. Very succinct explanation of a phenomenon that ties Colombians in knots. I didn’t realize Robinson was paying such close attention to the country beyond this Current History piece from early this year.
Uruguay’s 78-year-old president, José Mujica, poses in Montevideo with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, who I believe is also 78.
The amount of Colombian territory sprayed since 1996 would cover every square inch of this square.
From wola.org: Time to Abandon Coca Fumigation in Colombia
Peace talks with guerrillas may make possible a long-overdue end to a bad policy
Cultivation of coca, the plant used to make cocaine, has dropped steadily in Colombia since 2007. While the country’s coca plots totaled 167,000 hectares that year (a hectare equals about 2 1/2 acres), by 2012 the U.S. government measured 78,000 hectares. The UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated [PDF] a similarly steep drop over those years, from 99,000 to 48,000 hectares. Colombia has returned to levels of coca-growing measured in the mid–1990s, and is no longer the world’s number one coca-producing country.
This is a remarkable shift, but it’s important not to learn the wrong lesson from it. In fact, a closer look makes evident that Colombia should abandon its aerial herbicide spraying, or “fumigation,” program—and ongoing peace talks with the country’s largest guerrilla group offer an excellent moment to do it. Fumigation has contributed only modestly to reduced coca growing: while the coca plots were disappearing since 2007, the use of fumigation was also dropping. The program, meanwhile, has proved costly to other conflict stabilization and governance goals.
This program has operated in Colombia, with heavy U.S. support, since 1994. Aircraft, mostly piloted by contractor personnel, fly over coca-growing zones spraying “Round-Up Ultra,” an herbicide including the active ingredient glyphosate, over about 100,000 hectares per year of Colombian territory. Between 1996 and 2012, aircraft have sprayed herbicides over 1.6 million hectares of Colombia—an area equivalent to a square 80 miles on each side. The corners of such a square would stretch from the Washington suburbs to the Philadelphia suburbs. That’s the equivalent of one hectare sprayed every 5 minutes and 29 seconds since January 1, 1996.
Continued at wola.org