Violence in Three Latin American Cities: A Comparative Study Between Bogota, Lima, and Santiago

Latin America is one of the most violent regions in the world when ranked in terms of homicides per capita. With an average of 15.5 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants, the region's homicide rate is more than double the global average. Only Africa, with an average homicide rate of 17.4 per 100,000 inhabitants, ranks higher. Given Latin America's higher levels of economic and human development, experts hypothesize that spatial and social exclusion, combined with a lack of access to government programs, may be contributing to community disorganization and increased levels of violence and criminality. The research proposes to test the North American theory of social disorganization, and in particular, the concentration of violence in vulnerable neighbourhoods in cities that are otherwise experiencing economic growth and improved prosperity. The cities, Bogota (Colombia), Lima (Peru), and Santiago (Chile), have all experienced rapid demographic growth and concerns related to public security have dominated public policy agendas. While each share er similarities in terms of socio-economic development, there are sharp contrasts in the levels of violence and social exclusion. Their governments have also followed different paths in confronting criminal structures and networks. The project will take an interdisciplinary, comparative approach to studying selected neighbourhoods in each of the three cities, conducting both quantitative and qualitative investigations. Researchers will document government programs and assess the daily realities of violence experienced by residents. The project team will: - analyze the attitudes of neighbourhood residents toward their daily experiences with violence; - evaluate residents' interpretations of these experiences with a focus on vulnerable and socially disadvantaged groups; - establish existing levels of cohesion, trust, and other factors which may contribute to community efforts aimed at combatting violence; - identify the public programs which are most effective at increasing security and reducing violence in socially disadvantaged communities; - identify and analyze community and political processes that influence public policies; and, - propose policy recommendations that will help reduce violence. The research will produce a variety of outputs, from peer-reviewed academic papers to locally adapted policy recommendations. The research team will also organize discussion groups to analyze results and ensure that findings are shared with multiple stakeholders, including the local communities involved in the research. This project is part of the Safe and Inclusive Cities (SAIC) research initiative designed to build an evidence base on the connections between urban violence, poverty, and inequalities. Jointly funded by IDRC and the United Kingdom's Department for International Development, the SAIC program also seeks to identify the most effective strategies for addressing these challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Project ID

107368

Project status

Active

Start Date

Friday, December 21, 2012

Duration

30 months

IDRC Officer

Florencio Ceballos

Total funding

CA$ 548,700

Country(s)

Chile, Colombia, Latin America, Peru

Project Leader

Hugo Fruhling

Institution

Universidad de Chile

Institution Country

Chile

Institution Website

http://www.uchile.cl

Project Leader

Alejandra Mohor

Project Leader

Alejandra Mohor

Institution

Universidad de Chile

Institution Country

Chile

Institution Website

http://www.uchile.cl