QUITO – Latin America is caught in the dichotomy of being a peaceful zone and also the world’s most violent region, a situation that can be reverted through more policies and education, according to the United Nations Development Progamme’s Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jessica Faieta.
In an interview with Efe on Thursday, the UN assistant secretary-general said that violence and public insecurity are matters of great concern to the people and an outstanding issue in the region.
Faieta added that although there were countries where the rates of violence have come down, there were others with extremely high levels, especially of murders, with those in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico being particularly alarming.
On the other hand, the UN official, who is visiting Quito to meet Ecuadorian authorities, said that there were cases like Chile, where despite relatively lower levels of insecurity in comparison with the rest of the region, a poll showed that the increase in insecurity was the biggest concern of the population.
Therefore, she stressed, it is not insecurity in itself that is a problem for the region, but the perception of insecurity that limits life and business and requires a greater personal investment in security.
This, according to Faieta, brought to the fore the dichotomy in the region where there is violence but no countries in conflict such as in the Middle East.
Classifying the levels of violence in countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras as “truly alarming,” Faieta also noted that the violence in the region affected the young people “disproportionately,” mostly men, as victims and perpetrators although there was also a very high level of female victims.
She pointed out that factors fueling violence in the region included migration, a very high level of arms possession, presumably a legacy of its history of armed conflict, especially in Central America, but also attributed to increasingly strong organized crime.
However, investment in prevention, education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for the young, especially those at risk, could reverse the prevailing situation, she explained.
“It is a complex problem, because there is not a single reason for the violence and therefore it also requires a complexity of responses and policies,” Faieta concluded.