As cities sprawl across Latin America, absorbing more and more of its people, crime and violence have become inescapable. From the paramilitary invasion of Medell!n in Colombia, the booming wealth of crack dealers in Managua, Nicaragua and police corruption in Mexico City, to the glimmers of hope in Lima, this book provides a dynamic analysis of urban insecurity. Based on new empirical evidence, interviews with local people and historical contextualization, the authors attempts to shed light on the fault-lines which have appeared in Latin American society. Neoliberal ecomic policy, it is argued, has intensified the gulf between elites, insulated in gated estates monitored by private security firms, and the poor, who are increasingly mistrustful of state-sponsored attempts to impose order on their slums. Rather than the current trend towards government withdrawal, the situation can only be improved by co-operation between communities and police to build new networks of trust. In the end, violence and insecurity are inseparable from social justice and democracy.
Kees Koonings is Associate Professor of Development Studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences, Utrecht University. Dirk Kruijt is Professor of Development Studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences, Utrecht University.