When we sat down to start InSight Crime in 2010, we had a motto to help us shape our mission: we called it “organized crime for nerds.” And while this was certainly our starting point for our project and continues to center us, what we didn’t realize was how quickly this notion would expand to include corruption, human rights violations, massive forced displacement, and record homicide rates. We did not think we would be covering so much about the successes as well as the failures of national and local governments in dealing with crime. And we did not foresee writing about the peace processes, the truces and the youth violence prevention schemes.
This project has been called at different points everything from a think tank to a blog. It has drawn readers and contributors from policymakers to academics, from journalists to security analysts. It is indeed a unique hybrid that combines different voices and different types of stories from across the hemisphere. In addition to investigating organized crime, we do workshops to teach others how to do the same, and we assess citizen security projects.
Throughout, the heart of what we do has never changed: providing policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists and the general public with the information they need to understand corruption and organized crime in the region, so they can make better policy decisions going forward. But more than a dispassionate view from 10,000 feet, this project has become the only place where you get a continuous, hard look at the human beings on the ground who are most impacted by corruption and organized crime, and the agents of change who are working to alter the criminal dynamics that have made the region the most violent on the planet.
These human beings suffer because of extortion and kidnappings. They are robbed of their taxes and are paying for kickback schemes. They are being forcibly recruited or joining criminal groups to save their own lives. Not all of them are victims. Some are participating in criminal activities. They are the leaders and the recruits, the fixers and the middlemen. We resist the urge to demonize and even dehumanize them because we need to understand their motivations in order to lessen their impact. These human beings are also the crusaders. They are the ones who risk everything to lower homicide rates, change laws, and investigate corruption and crime at the highest levels.
When you give money to InSight Crime, you are helping us tell these human stories. Corruption and organized crime are, in part, about data. They are about numbers as well. And we will always give you that nerdy edge. But we will never forget that corruption and organized crime are mostly about the human beings who are living these problems day-to-day.
Steven Dudley & Jeremy McDermott