Crime has appeared as a central problem for citizens, politicians and the media in Latin America in last two decades. In this context, increased concerns about public safety impacts the political and electoral agenda. In Argentina, this process began at the end of the nineties but became especially prominent during the 2015 presidential election when all candidates forcefully supported more police, more video cameras, and more penalties.
Just last week, Brazilian President Michel Temer signed a decree to allow the military to take over as the primary security force in the state of Rio de Janeiro as an extreme attempt to crackdown on rising gang violence in the region’s poor shantytowns, or favelas. The upper and lower houses of Brazil’s Congress both voted overwhelmingly in favor of this decision, in spite of rising public criticism and concern over the protection of human rights under the military’s control.
In response to the inauguration of incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez on Sunday, January 27, protests have once again erupted throughout the capital city of Tegucigalpa, prompting a severe crackdown by armed forces.
In September 2017, Brazil’s military was deployed to manage the chaos between rival drug gangs in the Rocinha favela in Rio de Janeiro. The violence escalated to the point where the airspace over the favela was shut down. Schools, businesses, and streets were on lockdown with residents hiding in their homes using social media to communicate the events outside. The 950 soldiers deployed to the community suspect the infamous ruling drug lord Antonio Bonfim Lopes aka Nem to be behind the violence from inside prison.
Earlier this week, the Mexican government announced the legalization of growing vigilante groups. The government came to an agreement with the vigilante groups to integrate into the already existing quasi-military groups named the Rural Defense Corps.