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Thread: LATIN AMERICA - The World’s Most Murderous People

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    LATIN AMERICA - The World’s Most Murderous People

    The World’s Most Murderous People

    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.
    Moisés Naím El País, December 20, 2012

    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? The reasons offered by the experts are many and varied. Also unsatisfactory. Poverty is frequently mentioned. But on this basis, China ought to have more murders than Brazil. Others put it down to democracy, and the fact that authoritarian governments can repress crime with more impunity. But India, the world’s largest democracy and also one of the poorest, has a homicide rate comparatively lower than those of the poorest democracies in Latin America. Drug consumption and trafficking are also pointed to as reasons for the high Latin American murder rate. But no country consumes more drugs than the United States. And as far as drug trafficking is concerned, Morocco is to Europe what Mexico is to the United States: a poor country that sells drugs to its rich neighbor. Yet, the homicide rate in Morocco is far lower than in Mexico.

    This does not mean that drugs, poverty, or the inefficiency and corruption of the police, the judiciary and the prisons are not important factors. The World Bank has found that economic inequality, easy access to firearms, alcohol, the proliferation of gangs, low levels of incarceration and very small police forces are also part of the explanation.

    One good wish for 2013 is that Latin Americans decide to end the peaceful coexistence with murder. There is no reason to live this way. And we can, and must, do something to better understand what is going on, and launch an offensive against high homicide rates that engages as many groups and institutions as possible and that is sustained over time until murder rates are brought down. No priority is more urgent, and surely, more complex and difficult to attain. This is not just a job for governments and politicians. The Church, labor unions, business., schools and universities, the media, singers and artists — in short, the whole range of institutions and groups — could mobilize and commit themselves to reduce (by a third, a half?) the number of homicides in the next (three, five?) years. Perhaps this is a naïve hope. But more naïve, is to just watch as the killings go on.

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    Latino culture is a culture deeply embedded in violence and murder ..

    Inside the world's deadliest country: Honduras

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    They got her in the end: Mexico's fearless woman mayor who survived two drug gang assination attempts is beaten to death and dumped by the side of the road

    • Maria Santos Gorrostieta had been stabbed, beaten and burned
    • She defied Mexico's powerful drug gangs, who twice tried to gun her down
    • The former mayor leaves behind three sons

    By Sam Webb

    PUBLISHED: 06:15 EST, 26 November 2012

    Brave: Dr Maria Santos Gorrostieta has been found beaten to death at the side of a road. She defied Mexico's powerful drug gangs and survived two assassination attempts, the first of which claimed the life of her husband

    The body of a woman once called a 'heroine of the 21st century' for fearlessly standing up to Mexico's brutal drug cartels has been found beaten to death at the side of a road.

    Dr Maria Santos Gorrostieta, 36, was the former mayor of Tiquicheo, a rural district in Michoacan, west of Mexico City. She leaves behind three sons.
    Her second husband, Nereo Delgado Patinoran, is alleged to be missing.

    She famously survived two assassination attempts by narcotics gangs who have turned the country into a war zone.
    Dr Gorrostieta had seen her government security team withdrawn in November last year, and then her police escort in January.

    Her brave defiance may have cost the mother-of-three her life. The official cause of death was a blow to the head but she had been stabbed, her legs and hands had been bound and her waist and chest were covered in burns, suggesting she had been tortured.
    She was discovered by residents of the community of San Juan Tararameo, Cuitzeo Township, who were heading to work in the fields.

    Her family had reported her missing on November 14, and the disappearance was being investigated by the Anti-Kidnapping and Extortion Institution.
    A murder investigation has now been launched.

    The first assassination attempt was while in October 2009 when the car she was travelling in with her first husband Jose Sanchez came under fire from gunmen in the town of El Limone.
    The attack claimed his life but Gorrostieta lived. An attempt had been made on Sanchez's life earlier that year, but he managed to escape the armed mob who came after him.


    Gorrostieta, who had been elected in 2008, bravely battled back from her injuries in the face of overwhelming tragedy, but she was not destined to know peace.

    Murder: The corpse of Dr Gorrostieta, found by farm workers from San Juan Tararameo. She had been burned, beaten and stabbed

    The next attempt on her life was just three months later, when an masked group carrying assault rifles ambushed her on the road between Michoacan and Guerreo state. The van she was traveling in was peppered by 30 bullets. Three hit her.
    This time Gorrostieta's injuries were more severe, leaving multiple scars and forcing her to wear a colostomy bag. She was left in constant pain.

    A reporter was also wounded in the attack, as well as her press officer and brother.

    Grim discovery: Residents of the community of San Juan Tararameo found her body as they went to work in the fields

    In a famous act of defiance, she posed for pictures showing the extent of her horrifying wounds to draw attention to the brutality the drug gangs routinely mete out to their opponents.

    In a statement to the public made at the time, the devout Catholic said: 'At another stage in my life, perhaps I would have resigned from what I have, my position, my responsibilities as the leader of my Tiquicheo.

    'But today, no. It is not possible for me to surrender when I have three sons, whom I have to educate by setting an example, and also because of the memory of the man of my life, the father of my three little ones, the one who was able to teach me the value of things and to fight for them.

    'Although he is no longer with us, he continues to be the light that guides my decisions.'

    She added: 'I struggle day to day to erase from my mind the images of the horror I lived, and that others who did not deserve or expect it also suffered.
    'I wanted to show them my wounded, mutilated, humiliated body, because I’m not ashamed of it, because it is the product of the great misfortunes that have scarred my life, that of my children and my family.'

    'Despite my own safety and that of my family, what occupies my mind is my responsibility towards my people, the children, the women, the elderly and the men who break their souls every day without rest to find a piece of bread for their children.
    'Freedom brings with it responsibilities and I don’t dare fall behind. My long road is not yet finished - the footprint that we leave behind in our country depends on the battle that we lose and the loyalty we put into it.'

    Sickening: Dr Gorrostieta shows the wounds she sustained from the ambushers' gunfire and the subsequent car crash

    Wounds: The ex-mayor was lucky to survive the second attack. She was left in constant pain and was forced to use a colostomy bag

    After her ordeal she remarried and ran for a seat in Mexico's Congress of the Union, but failed to gain the backing she needed.

    Mexico has been torn apart by murderous drug gangs since President Felipe Calderon launched his drug offensive in 2006.

    More than 50,000 people have been killed in clashes between rival drug cartels and security forces and about two dozen mayors have been murdered.

    The cartels have ruled the streets with fear for years, enforcing their authority with murders, bribery and torture.

    But after decades of using force to combat the gangs, it is U.S. lawmakers who are the criminals' biggest problem.

    Legalisation of marijuana, as recently voted for by Colorado and Washington states, may wipe billions of dollars from the cartels’ annual profits.

    And it has left politicians in Mexico with a tough question: How can they continue to justify spending money – and lives – fighting drug distribution to America when it will be legal in some states from next month?

    Mexico presidential advisor Luis Videgaray said in a radio interview last week: 'Obviously, we can’t handle a product that is illegal in Mexico, trying to stop its transfer to the United States, when in the United States, at least in part of the United States, it now has a different status'

    Icon: Maria was described by a prominent Mexican journalist as 'a heroine of the 21st century'

    Casualty of war: Dr Gorrostieta is the latest official murdered by cartels in Mexico's bloody battle over drugs

    From January to September last year, 12,903 people were killed in the country in drug-related crime, ranging from gang members, Mexican military and innocent victims caught up in gun battles.

    The Mexican government claim they are winning the war on drugs, but few outside – or inside – the country believe that.

    So corrupt are their police that they are rarely employed in combating the cartels. Instead, the country relies on its army to tackle the gangs while it attempts to rebuild its police forces.

    Public support for the drug war continues to fall as the death toll rises and the cartels’ profits rise.

    The business of trafficking drugs from Mexico into the U.S. is estimated to be a business worth between $13billion (£8billion) and $49billion (£30billion), with 90 per cent of all cocaine used in America originating from the country, according to a U.S. state report.

    The U.S. Justice Department considers the cartels as America’s greatest organised crime threat, while conceding that it is U.S. dollars that fund the crime ravaging Mexico.

    In 2009 a military assessment predicted that if the drugs war continued for another 25 years, Mexico’s government was at serious risk of collapse and the conflict would spread into America.

    A year earlier, the U.S. Joint Forces Command suggested a similar time-scale of collapse in Mexico and warned American intervention may be necessary due to the implications for homeland security.

    The problem of strengthening the Mexico/U.S. border even prompted President Barack Obama to deploy 1,200 National Guard troops in 2010.
    The two major cartels in Mexico are now the Sinaloa Cartel and Los Zetas.

    The Sinaloa Cartel was formed when several gangs agreed to join forces in 2006 and is now led by Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman.

    He is Mexico's most wanted drug trafficker and is believed to be worth $1billion. Forbes magazing even declared him the 55th most powerful man in the world in 2009.
    Los Zetas were originally a mercenary outfit of former elite members of the Mexican army by the Gulf Cartel.

    Consisting of Airmobile Special Forces Group and Amphibian Group of Special Forces members, they helped control parts of Mexico for the Gulf Cartel until its leader, Osiel Cardenas Guillen, was arrested.

    Los Zetas took the opportunity to seize power for themselves and are now a 300-strong independent drugs and arms trafficking gang under the leadership of Heriberto Lazcano.


    Gorrostieta was born in 1976 and graduated in medicine from a university in the city of Morelia.

    She was elected mayor of Tiquicheo in 2008 and served until 2011. During that time she defected from the Institutional Revolutionary party to the left-wing Democratic Revolution party.

    In January 2009 her husband Jose Sanchez Chavez was set upon by an armed group but escaped

    In October that year Maria was attacked while she was with her husband as they drove along in El Limone. Jose died that day from gunshot wounds. Maria survived but was taken to a hospital in Morelia, the state capital.

    On January 23, 2010, she was attacked by men with machine guns in Ciudad Altamirano Guerrero, on her way to an event at the City Hall. She was severely injured after being hit by three bullets, as well as receiving wounds in the crash after the shooting, and had to use a colostomy bag. She said her wounds left her in constant pain.

    On Saturday November 17 her body was found by farm workers from San Juan Tararameo, Cuitzeo Township, who were heading to work. She was discovered on the property known as El Chupadero. The next day she was identified by members of her family.

    VIDEO: Maria Santos Gorrostieta survived a previous assassination attempt in 2009 Maria Santos Gorrostieta 'executed' after surviving two assassination attempts | Mail Online
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