The World’s Most Murderous People
It’s always the same. Somewhere in the United States a heavily armed, mentally disturbed male, kills a group of innocents. Twenty children and seven adults most recently. National grief, commotion and indignation follow, plus furious debate on gun control. Then nothing. Until a similar tragedy happens again and the cycle repeats itself. It looks like this time it will be different and hopefully, some reforms may be adopted.
This, however, does not happen in the most murderous region of the world: Latin America. There most people seem resigned to coexisting with murder: too many groups and too many leaders have lost the ability to imagine a reality where homicide is not part of daily life. Some 42 percent of the murders in the world happen in Latin America, though only eight percent of humanity lives there. The homicide rate in the US is five times lower than Latin America’s average.
The war in Afghanistan has claimed a total 3,238 allied lives. This is about the number of murders in Brazil every month. Last month’s conflict between Palestinians and Israelis produced approximately the same number of fatalities as a “hot” weekend in Caracas. The probability of being shot dead as you walk on any street in Baghdad is lower than that of dying on any street in Guatemala. Worldwide, the murder rates have declined slightly, or not risen much. But in Latin America they are soaring. El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have the highest homicides rates in the world, closely followed by those of other countries in the region. In 2011 in Brazil, 112 people per day were killed; in Mexico, 71 per day.
What explains Latin Americans’ propensity to murder?