Latin America and the Caribbean is considered to be the most violent region in the world. Despite widespread gains in education, poverty reduction, and living standards, Latin American countries continue to have disproportionately high rates of violent crime. Some may find this puzzling, since many of these countries have particularly powerful military and police forces. This then raises the question: Why haven't new policing strategies in the region had any impact? Is Latin America in a 'Security Trap'?
Just days after Rio councilwoman Marielle Franco was assassinated, leftist councilman Paulinho Henrique Dourado was murdered in a similar fashion. Dourado was in his car when he was shot multiple times, killing him and injuring another passenger in the car. These assassinations are two of 15 political assassinations that have occurred in Brazil since 2017 and are the first two politically driven murders following Brazilian President Temer’s decree to put Rio’s police forces under the military’s control (Telesur, 2018).
On March 14th, 2018, one of Brazil’s strongest voices in the fight for equal rights was assassinated in her car along with her driver on the way home from an event to empower young black women in Rio de Janeiro. Marielle Franco had just been elected the city councilor of Rio de Janeiro 18 months prior to her death. At 38 years old, Franco was the only black female representative on the 51-member council, and one of seven women (The New York Times, 2018).
This October, the Brazilian Forum of Public Security (BFPS) reported that in Brazil, one person is killed every nine minutes, for an average of 160 violent deaths a day, in what is considered one of the world’s most violent countries.