HomeNewsBriefIs Cuba the Next El Salvador? Not Likely
BRIEF

Is Cuba the Next El Salvador? Not Likely

CUBA / 20 AUG 2015 BY SAM TABORY EN

A social scientist has warned that Cuba’s growing gang problem could soon make the island nation’s security situation resemble that of violence-wracked El Salvador and Guatemala, a questionable claim that appears to have little to do with facts on the ground. 

Psychologist Manuel Fabian Orta recently told Cubanet that gang violence in Cuba is on the rise, and is set to reach the same level seen in some of Central America’s most violent countries. 

“Gang-related violence is growing at a worrying rate,” Orta said. “If nothing is done, [Cuba] will soon be like El Salvador or Guatemala.”

Sociologist Maria del Carmen Cordero also told Cubanet that between five and ten new youth gangs emerge in Havana every year. According to Maria del Carmen, who participated in a study on Cuban criminal groups, members of these gangs are generally residents of the city’s poorest sectors or are migrant youths from the country’s eastern provinces who do not have full legal status due to Cuba’s strict internal migration laws. 

InSight Crime Analysis 

The notion that Cuba is en route to developing a gang problem similar to that of El Salvador or Guatemala is simply far-fetched. The US Department of State characterizes Cuba as a communist police state and attributes low violent crime rates on the island to the heavy presence of security forces and police. Cuba has a homicide rate of just 4 per 100,000 residents, according to the most recent statistics from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (pdf).

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Cuba

In contrast, El Salvador and Guatemala both rank among the top five most violent nations in Latin America. El Salvador in particular is struggling to contain high levels of gang-related violence: new homicide figures indicate the country is on track to register an astounding murder rate of 91 per 100,000 in 2015. The recent gang-enforced bus strike that paralyzed San Salvador for days was a stark reminder of the influence criminal groups have over the country’s security situation. 

Although gangs are known to operate in Havana, Cuba’s harsh drug penalties are a significant limiting factor to the expansion of criminal groups. The country’s draconian drug laws call for severe punishment for even minor offenders, and President Raul Castro has publicly said he would consider the death penalty as a possible sentence for drug traffickers.  

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Related Content

CUBA / 8 JAN 2018

A new report says that shifting economic and social conditions in Cuba will likely force the country to revamp its…

CUBA / 10 SEP 2019

Despite a crackdown by the authorities, fuel theft continues in Cuba as the island faces shortages aggravated by sanctions on its…

BOLIVIA / 17 JAN 2018

Organized crime thrives amid political corruption and uncertainty. There will be plenty of this in Latin America in 2018, helping…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…