Americas: Visualizing the rise of citizen security / Robert Muggah

For more than two decades Latin American and Caribbean countries have experienced some of the highest rates of violence in the world. The regional homicide rate is well above what qualifies as an epidemic, and in some places surpasses what might pass for war. There are many forms of violence across the region ranging from organized and petty crime to state-led extra-judicial killings and sexual violence. The region also features a wide variety of publicly and privately-led responses – whether pursued aggressively through military and police institutions or through more preventive strategies that privilege judicial, health, educational, and recreational lenses. Many of these latter approaches are commonly described as “citizen security”.

From the hard fist to the open hand
Prior to the emergence of citizen security, governments across Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean typically invested in repression. The dominant paradigm required states to be the sole provider of national security and public order. Known colloquially as “mano dura”, or hard fist, military and policing institutions sought to deter criminals by applying zero tolerance methods. SEE MORE…

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