8. State violence, policing, and paramilitaries

Abstract

Policing in Latin America has been increasingly militarized in recent years. Not only has this failed to reduce crime, it kills and injures many innocent people, including children. This violence disproportionately affects the poor, as well as black and indigenous communities. Migrants are frequent targets.

Both state forces and non-state actors such as paramilitary groups may be deployed to protect the operations of extractive industries such as mining, oil drilling, and agribusiness.

Index

About the Author

Mike Gatehouse lived in Chile in 1972-3 and worked for 15 years in London for Latin America solidarity and human rights organizations.

Co-author of LAB’s Soft Drink, Hard Labour – Guatemalan workers take on Coca Cola and In the Mountains of Morazán – Portrait of a returned refugee community in El Salvador, he is an editor at LAB.

Interviewees

Gabriela Díaz (Hijos e Hijas Colombia): interviewed via Skype on 24 February 2018 by Ali Rocha. Translated by Ingrid de Almeida. Ana Enamorado (MMM): interviewed in Mexico City on 14 August 2017 by Carol Byrne. Translated by Carol Byrne. Ana Paula Oliveira and Fatima Pinho (Mães de Manguinhos): interviewed in Rio de Janeiro on 8 December 2016 by Ali Rocha. Translated by Catherine Morgans. Javier Treviño Rangel (CIDE): interviewed in Aguascalientes, Mexico, on 28 February 2017 by Francesco di Bernardo. Transcribed by Andreea Tudose. Rogelio Ustate (Tabaco community): interviewed in Hatonuevo, La Guajira, Colombia, on 7 January 2017 by Emma Banks. Transcribed by Elizabeth Pillares and translated by James Scorer.

References

NB: All web references were checked and still available in May/June 2018 unless otherwise stated.

Amnesty International (2016) Treated with Indolence” – The State’s Response to Disappearances in Mexico, Amnesty International Report

Burt, J. M. (2012) ‘Quest for human rights justice in Peru suffers serious setbacks’, Foreign Policy in Focus

CEH (1999) ‘Guatemala: memory of silence’, Report of the Commission for Historical Clarification, Conclusions and Recommendations, English summary

Chohan, J.K. (2017) ‘Colombia: incompliance, continued violence and crop eradication’, LAB, 31 October

Cruz, E. (2016) ‘Crimes de Maio causaram 564 mortes em 2006; entenda o caso’, Agência Brasil

El Colombiano (2017) ‘“En Colombia no hay paramilitarismo”: Ministro de Defensa’, 11 January

Gill, S. (2016) ‘Colombia state ties to paramilitary groups alive and well: Report’, Colombia Reports

Hernández, A. and Fisher, S. (2014) ‘Iguala: la historia no oficial’, Proceso

Holocaust Museum (no date) ‘Genocide in Guatemala, 1981–83’, Holocaust Museum, Houston, TX

Huey, D. (2014) ‘The US war on drugs and its legacy in Latin America’, The Guardian, 3 February

Human Rights Watch (2016) ‘“Good cops are afraid” – the toll of unchecked police violence in Rio de Janeiro’, Human Rights Watch

Jardim, L. (2018) ‘Ibope: 50% dos brasileiros acham que ‘bandido bom é bandido morto’, O Globo, 4 March

LAB (forthcoming) Overburden: Community Resistance to Mining in Latin America, Latin America Bureau (LAB) and Practical Action Publishing, Rugby.

Mortensen, T. (2017) ‘Colombia: peace, but maybe not the peace we hoped for’, LAB, 27 November

Ni Bhriain, N. (2016) ‘Colombia: the dark side of peace in Tumaco’, LAB, 20 September

Roxo, S. (2017) ‘“Policial que não mata não é policial” diz Bolsonaro‘, O Globo

Ruge, E. (2017) ‘Mothers of kids killed by police speak out at launch of “No tanks!” campaign against police operations’, RioOnWatch, 15 December

Videos

Freedom has no borders

1
A moving short photo-video from Francisco Elías Prada and Ángela Rodríguez Torres of LAB partner Ojos Ilegales, Venezuela. The photos convey haunting...

Walk with us – the migrant crisis in Central America

0
Film by Judy Jackson, 2019 The migrant crisis through the eyes of Pastor Ignacio Martinez, the founder of...

Thanks from Venezuela for Voices of Latin America

1
Photographer Francisco Elias Prado, of Ojos Ilegales, in Caracas Venezuela, has sent LAB this video. He produced a photo-essay, Transmigración en Movimiento,...

Rio’s Citizen Journalists fight police brutality

0
Papo Reto, Portuguese for “Straight Talk”, formed as a citizens’ journalist collective in 2010 in response to government efforts to rid...

How Mexico’s government controls journalism

0
Journalists in Mexico face many dangers, especially when they're covering the country's ongoing drug war. Video: Al Jazeera...

Las otras voces – la caravana de madres de migrantes desaparecidos

0
The program 'Las Otras Voces' presents the Caravan of Mothers of Disappeared Migrants, those who come from Central and South America and...

Further reading

General

– Charles, M. (2019) ‘A Split Emerges in Latin America Over How to Deal With Rising Violence’, World Politics Review

– Chavez, R.B. (2018) ‘The Return of Latin America’s Military’, The New York Times

– Clavel, T. (2018) ‘Why Latin America Dominates Global Homicide Rankings’, InSight Crime

– Fuchs Alvarado, G. (2019) ‘Countering hate speech against refugees and migrants: An evaluation of international human rights treaties and soft law instruments‘, Revista Relaciones Internacionales, Universidad Nacional, Costa Rica, No.92.1, January-June 2019

– Kyle, B.J. and Reiter, A.G. (2018) ‘Militarization Redux’, NACLA

– Muggah, R. and Aguirre Tobón, K. (2018) ‘Citizen security in Latin America: Facts and Figures’, Strategic Paper 33, Igarapé Institute

– Muggah, R. and Szabó Carvalho, I. (2017) ‘There’s a cure for Latin America’s murder epidemic – and it doesn’t involve more police or prisons’, World Economic Forum

– Pearce, J. (2018) ‘Elites and Violence in Latin America: Logics of the Fragmented Security State’, Violence, Security, and Peace Working Papers, No. 1, LSE Latin America and Caribbean Centre

– Woody, C. (2015) ‘‘We have seen a significant amount of deaths’: Inside Latin America’s brutal war on crime’, Business Insider

– Yagoub, M. (2017) ‘From Chile to Mexico: Best and Worst of LatAm Police’, InSight Crime

Brazil

– Democracy Now! (2019) ‘“This Is Just the Beginning”: Greenwald on Rising State Violence & Homophobia in Bolsonaro’s Brazil’, Democracy Now!

– Lemgruber, J. and Musumeci, L. (2017) ‘Not all Brazilians believe that criminals have no rights, but a startling number do’, The Conversation

– Reist, S. (2018) ‘The Deadly Genealogy of Bolsonaro’s Favorite Slogan’, Jacobin

– Smith, C. (2018) ‘Lingering Trauma in Brazil: Police Violence Against Black Women’, NACLA

Colombia

Cosoy, N. (2017) ‘Why has Colombia seen a rise in activist murders?’, BBC News

– Friedmann, J. (2018) ‘‘The Only Protection Is God’: Negotiating Faith and Violence in Chocó’, Pulitzer Center

– Mcevoy, K.G. (2018) ‘Britain’s Secret War in Colombia’, Jacobin

– Parkin Daniels, J. (2018) ‘Colombia’s hidden victims finally get their day in court’, The Guardian

– Wesche, P. (2018) ‘The Paramilitary Threat in Post-Conflict Colombia’, NACLA

Mexico

– BBC News (2018) ‘Migrant caravan: What is it and why does it matter?’, BBC News

– Ernst, F. (2018) ‘‘The training stays with you’: the elite Mexican soldiers recruited by cartels’, The Guardian

– Holman, J. (2018) ‘Mexico police officers ‘underpaid, under-equipped’’, Al Jazeera

– Nugent, C. (2018) ‘Mexico Is Suffering Its Bloodiest Year in Modern History. Here’s Why’, Time

– Villegas, P. (2018) ‘An Old Sore for Mexico’s Next President: The 43 Missing Students’, The New York Times

News related to this chapter:

Bolivia: 50 NGOs offer to work for peace

0
https://www.facebook.com/CabildeoDigital/videos/2565826723498833/ Lucha Libre programme. Interview (in Spanish) with Susana Erostegui, Director of the NITA network and Dino Palacios of Fundación Ciudad, two of the organizations which signed the Communiqué. Video produced by UNITAS, Christian Aid partner and one of the signatories to the declaration. More than 50 development and human rights institutions in Bolivia have come together to appeal for a peaceful solution as the country is plunged into a social and political crisis. The crisis follows the disputed elections, the resignations of president Evo Morales and vice president...

Chile: students in Talca explain why they back the protests

0
On the 18th of October 2019, mass fare dodging in Santiago de Chile expanded into city-wide protests and violence. Initially in response to a transport price hike, the situation subsequently developed into a nation-wide movement against Chile’s stark inequality issues. Amongst the cities where protests and marches are in full swing is Talca, where students of the University of Talca have voted this week to extend the shutdown indefinitely.  Talca on the map Talca is the capital of Maule province, located in Central Chile approximately 3 hours south of the country’s capital, and one...

Bolivia – Morales forced to resign

0
Bolivia Information Forum (UK) has provided the detailed account, below, of the events of the last several weeks, leading up to the surprise resignations of the President and Vice President. While LAB believes this to be a careful and conscientious account, produced as events unfold, many questions remain and there will undoubtedly be other elements to add and differing views on the causes and prognosis in the days ahead. The people of Bolivia face great danger and uncertainty, with the real possibility of wide-scale violence and repression. The considerable social progress they have achieved...

Brazil: the PT lion roars again

0
São Paulo, November 10 2019. Following a controversial Supreme Court ruling, Lula has been temporarily freed after 580 days in prison on a corruption charge he has always denied. His freedom came, not because of the leaked conversations that revealed a conspiracy between local judge, now Justice Minister,  Sergio Moro and the prosecutors to stop Lula running in the 2018 elections, but because the Supreme justices decided that accused persons, even when found guilty in lower courts, can only be  imprisoned after all appeals, right up  to the Supreme itself, have been heard.

Santiago de Chile: Graphic images of the violence

0
These images of the recent violence in Santiago, Chile, taken during the last few days, were sent to LAB on WhatsApp