A Near Record Murder Year, Yet Country Ignores Solution To Crisis

Much of the chal­lenges faced by Latin and South America, parts of Africa and the Caribbean, stems from deep­er issues oth­er than the obvi­ous default rea­son of pover­ty.
If we are able to dis­pense with the pre­con­ceived notion that pover­ty is the defin­ing crime-dri­ving char­ac­ter­is­tic we may be able to have a meet­ing of the minds on the role polit­i­cal cor­rup­tion plays in the metas­ta­siz­ing effect of crime.

Before we talk about cor­rup­tion it may be a good idea to look also at the idea that for the most part high crime pro­duc­ing coun­tries have large­ly been nations which have had a hard time gov­ern­ing them­selves after been freed from the chains of colo­nial­ism.

Among some of the nations which have strug­gled with deep social issues are Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico.
In many cas­es the prob­lem of crime has wors­ened as a direct result of Government’s inac­tion or in oth­ers their direct action.
In Colombia and Mexico, two of the Nations which have waged decades-long wars against nar­co-traf­fick­ers, a large part of the rea­son the prob­lem has been so intractable has been the cor­rup­tion of pub­lic offi­cials at all lev­els.

Colombia is a nation which I gen­er­al­ly point to as a mod­el of decid­ed lead­er­ship against crime and cor­rup­tion.

Then President Álvaro Uribe

Much of Colombia’s change may be attrib­uted to the hard-line politi­cian named Alvaro Uribe after he took over the Colombian pres­i­den­cy. He would go on to rule the coun­try for eight years, until 2010, scor­ing major vic­to­ries against vio­lent groups on the left and right. President Uribe was barred con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly from run­ning for a third term.

Today in the words of Colombia’s offi­cial tourist slo­gan: “The only risk is want­i­ng to stay.” As for Colombians them­selves, a world­wide poll con­duct­ed late last year by WIN/​Gallup International Association found they are not just in pass­ably good spir­its. They are the most con­tent­ed peo­ple on the plan­et, with a “hap­pi­ness score” of 75 — almost dou­ble the glob­al aver­age. (Canadians were No. 18 with a score of 48.)

The mur­der rate remains trou­bling accord­ing to ( the star​.com) by most accounts — 33.2 delib­er­ate homi­cides per 100,000 pop­u­la­tion in 2011 — but that fig­ure rep­re­sent­ed a sharp decline since Uribe took pow­er in 2002 when the rate was more than twice as high, at 70.2.
President Uribe was barred con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly from run­ning for a third term in office in 2010, and his anoint­ed suc­ces­sor, Juan Manuel Santos, was elect­ed in his place.

A typ­i­cal scene before Uribe.

As late as 2002 The large cities — Bogota, Medellin, Cali — were still most­ly shut­tered at night, and inter-city roads were fre­quent­ly impass­able owing to the threat of rob­bery or kid­nap. Meanwhile, the drug gangs were flour­ish­ing, and vast swathes of the coun­try­side were con­trolled by armed rebels.

The bad sta­tis­ti­cal indices — those for extor­tion, kid­nap­ping, and mur­der — are way down, while the good indi­ca­tors are sharply up, includ­ing employ­ment, tourist arrivals, for­eign direct invest­ment and eco­nom­ic growth. Savvy out­siders now con­sid­er Colombia a safe place to invest their mon­ey and a great coun­try to vis­it, a land where per­son­al secu­ri­ty no longer needs to be a major con­cern, at least not for those who stay clear of drugs and pol­i­tics.

Despite all of these pos­i­tives, not every­one is hap­py with the sharp turn­around in Colombia made pos­si­ble by President Uribe’s strong band deci­sive lead­er­ship.

Gimena Sanchez, a Colombia expert at the Washington Office on Latin America, a U.S.-based think tank, says many unre­solved prob­lems lurk behind Colombia’s new and improved façade, includ­ing some 3,000 extra-judi­cial killings com­mit­ted by the armed forces dur­ing Uribe’s two terms.

Now we’re see­ing an increase in killings of human-rights defend­ers,” she says. “The con­flict has shift­ed, but the per­cep­tion that every­thing is great and there are no prob­lems isn’t true. It’s not the full pic­ture.”

Sounds famil­iar?
Despite the mete­oric rise in the con­fi­dence of the Colombian peo­ple in the dra­mat­ic turn around of their coun­try, the buzz­words are the very same.
Never mind that there is gen­er­al­ly no evi­dence to back up claims of extra­ju­di­cial killings claims from the those who pur­port to be advo­cates for human rights they make those scur­rilous claims any­way.

The streets of Bogota Colombia today.

In the 18-year peri­od lead­ing up to 2002 when President Uribe took office, the process knows as La Violencia, claimed upwards of 200,000 lives in Colombia.
Colombia’s mur­der rate around the turn of the cen­tu­ry was the high­est in Latin America. In 2002, at least 28,387 peo­ple were killed in the coun­try, accord­ing to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Its homi­cide rate of 68.9 per 100,000 peo­ple in 2002 was more than 10 times high­er than Costa Rica (6.3) and near­ly twice that of Guatemala (37.0) and Venezuela (38.0).

Despite the changes and the con­sis­tent annu­al down­ward trend of homi­cides in Colombia, there are those who are fix­at­ed on what author­i­ties did to bring san­i­ty to their coun­try.
Those crit­i­cisms are usu­al­ly made from the com­fort and safe­ty of coun­tries with none of the exis­ten­tial threats the nations they tar­get face.
Jamaica has a deci­sion to make, unfor­tu­nate­ly, it does not seem like there is a Jamaican Uribe any­where in the two polit­i­cal par­ties
There is nev­er­the­less no short­age of Jamaican style Gimena Sanchez.