Homicide epidemic in Latin America Yasuyoshi Chiba/Getty Images

Republics of Murder

Latin America is in the grip of a homicide epidemic. Although the region is home to just 8% of the world’s population, one in three of all homicides occur there; and one in four of all homicides occur in just four countries: Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, and Colombia.

RIO DE JANEIRO – Latin America is in the grip of a homicide epidemic. Although the region is home to just 8% of the world’s population, one in three of all homicides occur there; and one in four of all homicides occur in just four countries: Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, and Colombia. Of the 25 most murderous cities in the world, a staggering 23 are in Latin America.

But data alone cannot describe the scale of this human tragedy. Latin Americans are living in a continent-wide war zone, and many of them are being denied the right to life – the most basic human right of all.

Some of the stories behind the statistics have been widely reported; others are known only to the victims’ families. Veteran Mexican journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas, for example, had just filed a story about teachers being murdered, simply for doing their jobs, when he died last month in Culiacán, Mexico, after being shot a dozen times. Cárdenas is the sixth journalist to be murdered in Mexico in this year alone.

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