Marielle and institutional deaths in Latin America

Mar 28, 2023 | 0 Comentarios

April 2, 2018

Keymer Ávila | @Keymer_Avila

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2013), Central America ranked second in the ranking of highest homicide rates recorded by subregion, South America came third and the Caribbean fourth. The Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization (2016) agree with these data, estimating the regional homicide rate at 28.5 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. This is a rate four times that of the rest of the world and twice that of developing countries in Africa.

What are our Penal Systems doing in the face of these high rates of violence? Are they contributing to its increase or decrease?

As indicated in the  recent statement from the Latin American Association of Criminal Law and Criminology (ALPEC) , various researchers and academics who study the behavior of the Penal Systems in our countries view with concern the rise of  strong-arm policies, expressed in police raids that do not respect any legal or institutional limits, and that have the most humble and racialized as military objectives. In Our America, countries such as Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico stand out for the militarization of their citizen security policies, as well as for the thousands of deaths that their security forces have generated in recent years. The denunciation of cases as serious as the murders of Marielle Franco, Bertha Cáceres, Sabino Romero, the Colombian social leaders who fight for the right to land; the disappearances of the 43 from Ayotzinapa, Alcedo Mora or Santiago Maldonado are just the tip of the iceberg.

In this matter, negative patriotism to see who occupies the dishonorable first places could be an exercise susceptible to being exploited by partisan interests. But, in addition, it is also difficult to do it with due rigor, and that is what the powers behind all this violence take care of. Access to criminal figures in general, and common homicides in particular, is difficult and in the cases  in which they are accessible, the quality of the data is not reliable.. This situation is much more critical with cases of police violence, especially with homicides committed by officials of the security forces. These difficulties are not unique to some Latin American countries, they exist throughout the region and also in countries like the United States, where the debate on police violence against blacks is on the table (more than 40% of the victims they are Afro-descendants and Latinos, this  count  is carried out by press monitoring because there are no reliable official figures).

If we go south and refer to cases of deaths at the hands of state security forces or “police lethality”, we take as a basis a  recent investigation by Ignacio Cano and Anneke Osse , and we contrast it with the latest  official information provided by the Venezuelan authorities , Brazil, Jamaica, El Salvador and Venezuela would be among the countries with the most lethal security organizations on the continent. The situation in various countries of Central America and Mexico it’s not encouraging either.

An additional tool that is very useful for making comparisons between countries is the use of the “death by legal intervention” rate per hundred thousand inhabitants, which can be calculated through the health data that fall under this category of the International Classification. of Diseases of the WHO (ICD-10). Following this method, of a group of 8 countries (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela) studied by Fondevila and Meneses (2014), with data for the year 2011, Venezuela ranked third with a rate of 0.411; the first place was held by Honduras (1,012), the second by Colombia (0.553) and the fourth Brazil(0.396). These data seem to establish a  relationship between the national homicide rates and the rates of deaths due to legal intervention ( Ávila, 2017:33 ).

It seems that the model that some Latin American governments want to impose is that of the Philippines where the government carries out the operation known as “Tokhang” which literally means “hit and implore”. This country has in its account some  9,400 people executed from the year 1988 to the present day . If a careful review is made, these figures can easily be exceeded by some of our countries.

The activist Marielle Franco, assassinated a few days ago  by the bullets of the federal police in Brazil , was fighting precisely against these practices, courageously questioning the  dripping massacre  that is applied in her country. These excesses usually have bombastic and propagandistic names:  UPP  in Brazil,  OLP  in Venezuela, “ trigger easy ” in Argentina. In some cases, these powers of the State security forces are expressed in legislative acts, as is intended to be done with the  Internal Security Law in Mexico or with the reforms of the  Police Code in Colombia .

The best honor to the memory of Marielle, a woman who symbolizes the struggles of so many excluded and vulnerable sectors in Our America, is  to raise their flags  against the abuse of power in each of our countries, especially that which is expressed in a lethal manner against our young people from the less favored sectors that constitute our great majorities Enough is enough!

 The count kept by  The Guardian newspaper  is 1,146 people in 2015 and 1,092 for 2016.

 The war against drugs decreed since 1995 by the government, which was continued and intensified by subsequent efforts, has resulted in an increase in homicides, disappearances, and armed violence in this country (Barrón, 2012).

 According to the Colombian Commission of Jurists (2011), between 2002 and 2008, some 8,000 people died at the hands of State security forces or who -at least- had the support or tolerance of it; as well as some 2,410 forced disappearances (p.80). All this without going into the analysis of the complaints according to which  one in three casualties reported by the military between 2006 and 2007 were false positives .

 According to a  2016 United Nations report  , Brazil presented the highest absolute number of cases of stray bullets due to legal intervention, followed by Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela.

Also read in The security of rights:  Bolívar, the state  | Do they intend to promote a children’s PLO?  | Amnesty Law: 7 ideas for reflection  | The dismantling of the Public Ministry  |

Publicado originalmente en Provea

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