Youth unemployment

Criminal Violence and Peacemaking in Latin America as Inclusive Development Issues

    More people in Latin America die as a result of criminal violence than in anywhere else in the world. While 8 percent of the world’s population lives in Latin America and the Caribbean, the region accounts for roughly one-third of the world’s homicide cases.  Latin America's per capita homicide rate is 23.4 per 100,000 people, nearly double the rate in Africa, a region sometimes mistakenly believed to be the most violent continent.  

    As is widely known, organized crime, particularly crime involving drug trafficking, is one of the most important sources of the violence in the region, with serious implications for physical security and general human well-being, particularly for those living in poor communities. Some recent research has noted the worrying sign of close links between political elites and organized crime—a situation that does not bode well for either the quality of democracy or for substantial improvement over the long-term—despite some recent improvements in specific cases. 

Gender and Violence: Brazil and the Need to Understand and Deconstruct Masculinities Everywhere

    This blog entry was inspired by recent events in Brazil—the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl in Rio de Janeiro. It also owes a debt to one of my graduate students (a Mexican), who took my Gender, Globalization, and Development course this past winter. His remarks, particularly when the discussion turned to the Mexican case, emphasized the importance of achieving a better grasp of exactly what men think and why they behave the way they do. He observed that the literature on globalization, gender, and development, while accurately pointing out all of the ways in which women are exploited, subjected and repressed, does not really illuminate the ways in which male identity contributes to the problem. True, everyone agrees that patriarchy is at the root of female oppression, and that it involves power. However, we need to know why patriarchy has been so enormously resilient. This question is especially puzzling since patriarchy, particularly in its extreme forms, is arguably counterproductive to everyone’s welfare. 

Economic Exclusion and the Latin American Drug Wars: The Link between Neoliberalism and the Drug Trade

    On April 18, the United Nations General Assembly held a special session on the drug trade. At this session, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos presented a plan for the complete and radical overhaul of global policy towards drug trafficking. Calling for an approach that is both more humane and comprehensive, he recommended an end to the victimization of drug users through abolishing the harsh penalties attached to drug related offenses. His views reflect growing support for a human rights approach to addressing the drug trade issue--one that recognizes that the punitive and repressive responses of states to drug production and trafficking have failed to reduce the trade while ratcheting up the level of drug related violence. The consequence has been that human rights violations related to drug offense are common throughout the region while Latin American prisons have become filled to overflowing with drug offenders, most of them consumers and low-level offenders. Altering the approach to the Latin American drug wars is essential to improving the human condition for millions who face both material deprivation and high levels of physical insecurity. In Mexico, for example, as many as 80,000 have perished in drug-related violence since 2006, while between 2012 and 2014, 2 million more fell into poverty. However, is taking a human rights approach to the drug issue, through decriminalizing lower level offenses, reducing sentences, and providing treatment for users, going to be enough to reduce the unfortunate social consequences that have arisen with drug production and trafficking?