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WOLA: Tackling Urban Violence in Latin America

1 FEB 2012 BY INSIGHT CRIME EN

“Tackling Urban Violence in Latin America: Reversing Exclusion through Smart Policing and Social Investment,” explores the role of social development, as opposed to heavy policing, in combating violence in poverty-stricken urban areas.

Published by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), the report looks at four examples throughout Latin America where efforts have been made to increase citizen security through social development; Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Medellin (Colombia), Ciudad Juarez (Mexico), and Santa Tecla (El Salvador).

An excerpt from the introduction:

While crime is a serious enough problem to manage on its own, in much of Latin America it is compounded by social exclusion, marginalization, and lack of basic services in many poor areas. Many of the region’s cities’ poorer districts, which were settled informally in periods of rapid urbanization, have long been plagued with endemic poverty and lack of opportunity. In recent decades, many have suffered increasing violence, often drug or gang-related, that is sometimes worsened — not alleviated — by police.

Findings from the four case studies varied, due to the different types of problems encountered in each city, and the immaturity of some of the programs. However, the over-arching theme of the report is that increasing citizen security in the face of high violence requires efforts to reincorporate, and provide social services to, marginalized communities; or “reverse exclusion,” as WOLA terms it.

Find the complete report here (pdf).

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