HomeNewsBriefPanama Amnesty: No Lasting Solution to Gang Problem
BRIEF

Panama Amnesty: No Lasting Solution to Gang Problem

PANAMA / 1 AUG 2014 BY KYRA GURNEY EN

Panama’s Minister of Security has indicated the government may extend a one-month amnesty period that has led to the disarming of over 1000 gang members, although the program is not a lasting solution to the country’s gang problem.

More than 1,100 gang members have taken advantage of the amnesty period to disarm and begin the process of reintegrating into society, reported Panama America. Although the amnesty — which was announced by incoming President Juan Carlos Varela on July 1 — technically ends today, Minister of Public Security Rodolfo Aguilera Franceschi stated that gang members who wanted to join the program after August 1 would still be accepted.

To carry out the reintegration program, the Varela administration created five commissions aimed at disarming 4,500 gang members, reported La Estrella. The gang members are expected to enroll in technical courses to obtain jobs.   

InSight Crime Analysis

In recent years, Panama has seen an explosion of gang activity. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of gang members more than quadrupled from 1,385 to an estimated 7,500. According to a recent United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report (pdf), there were around 355 different gangs operating in Panama in 2013.

Given Panama’s strategic location as a transshipment point on northern-bound drug routes from Colombia, there is a risk street gangs could eventually make the leap to more sophisticated organized criminal groups and even transnational organizations. InSight Crime field research has indicated some gangs already work with Colombian transnational criminal groups, guarding drug shipments in Panama City and Colon. According to La Estrella, transnational organizations also pay Panamanian gangs to transport drug shipments.

The one-month amnesty period appears to have had considerable success in facilitating the disarmament of gangs. So far, close to 15 percent of the country’s gang members have taken advantage of the program, and that figure will likely increase if the amnesty period is extended. There is however little likelihood that the disarmament will provide a lasting solution to the country’s gang problem. According to a report from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung foundation, many gang members are hesitant to take advantage of government programs because they tend to be temporary, whereas gang activity provides a sustained source of income. 

SEE ALSO: El Salvador Gang Truce: Positives and Negatives

Elsewhere in the region, authorities have implemented alternative solution to gang violence with limited success. El Salvador negotiated a gang truce in 2012, which initially lead to a drop in homicides but was ultimately declared a failure when gang violence returned to previous levels. Belize created a gang truce program in 2011 that provided work opportunities for gang members, but the program was terminated when funding ran out in 2012. 

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

ELITES AND CRIME / 8 MAR 2016

New revelations about a political espionage ring are another sign that Ricardo Martinelli's presidential administration in Panama employed mafia-like tactics…

COLOMBIA / 9 JUL 2014

Panama's border control agency has warned that Colombian criminal groups descended from the paramilitaries are increasingly using the country as…

MONEY LAUNDERING / 14 SEP 2015

Panama has made some key moves in order to get itself removed from the international "grey list" of nations that…

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…