Latin American Security By the Numbers Update: June 16, 2015

Latin America and the Caribbean

This post was compiled by WOLA intern Caroline Buhse.

Between Friday, June 6th and Monday, June 8th, a 3-day period, authorities in El Salvador recognized 77 homicides. The departments of San Salvador, Cuscatlán, San Vicente y La Paz reported the highest numbers of deaths. At one of the murder scenes, a triple homicide, three men were identified as members of the 18th Street Gang. Two adolescents, ages 13 and 15, were murdered in their home and were also identified as members of the Mara 18.

The month of May hit a record in El Salvador for the highest number of killings in the country’s history since the civil war ended in 1992. The homicide record totaled 635, averaging about 20 deaths per day. If this pace is sustained over the rest of the year El Salvador will be by far the most violent country on the planet.

Mexico has deported 79 percent more people from Central America’s “Northern Triangle” countries in the first four months of 2015 than it did during the same months of 2014, according to the Mexican government’s National Immigration Institute. In January through April of 2014, 28,736 migrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala were deported, while 51,565 migrants from those countries were sent home between January and April of 2015. Many analysts contend that these numbers increased after the United States pressured Mexico to step up security operations along its southern border.

Only 40 percent of the 60,748 minors who arrived at the U.S. border from Central America last year have legal representation, leaving 60 percent of the child migrants to navigate immigration court alone. Of the 12,000 minors who have arrived in the US in 2015, two-thirds do not have legal representation in court. The Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) shows that three-fourths of minors with legal representation have been allowed to stay in the United States, whereas 80 percent of minors without lawyers have been deported.

The European Union has set aside 26 million euros for post-conflict operations and reconstruction in Colombia. The money will be kept in a trust fund until the government signs a peace agreement with the FARC guerrilla group. Five million euros are intended to help the Colombian Presidency’s planned Ministry of Post-conflict, and the remaining 21 million will help reconstruct regions of Colombia that were hardest hit by conflict.

Since calling an end to a five-month unilateral cease-fire on May 22, the FARC in Colombia has carried out over 30 violent attacks, many of them against civilian infrastructure targets in clear violation of international humanitarian law. The military has responded to the attacks, as peace negotiations between the FARC and the Colombian government continue in Havana. 

Estimates indicate that Venezuela may now be the world’s first or second most violent country, at 82 homicides per 100,000 people. The non-governmental Venezuela Violence Observatory counted 25,000 murders in 2014, a level of violent crime that has caused many Venezuelans to follow self-imposed curfews, Bloomberg reported. Many fear abduction, shootings, and assault, and no longer feel safe in neighborhoods that were once considered secure.

School closures in Chilapa, Guerrero, Mexico are affecting 15 thousand students. As of May 25, twenty-five percent, or 140 of 666 schools, had not reopened due to high levels of violence. For five days in May, Chilapa’s municipal seat was overrun by armed men while authorities stood by; at least 15 people in the town disappeared.

After 440 incidents of possible electoral fraud in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, around 300 thousand votes cast for congressional and local elections may be nullified. The incidents included robbery and burning of votes, early suspension of voting and uninstalled voting machines.