Preview: Vol. 35 No. 17

The following are abstracts from articles that can be found in our biweekly publication, the Washington Report on the Hemisphere Volume 35, Issue 17. If you would like to continue reading, learn about our subscription rates here.

Police Brutality in Brazil

Police brutality in Brazil has continually worsened in recent years. On a per capita basis, Brazilian police kill ten times as many civilians as American cops. Compared to gang violence, police brutality seems unimportant. Moreover, high levels of interpersonal violence in Brazil also seem to justify police brutality. However, returning violence for violence only multiplies it; police brutality is the cause of- not the solution to- higher levels of gang violence. In order to break this cycle of violence, the cycle needs to be understood. Private policing, racism, weak institutional controls, the Drug War, and the legacy of authoritarianism are the five main factors that are feeding the cycle of police brutality. Only by addressing each and every one of these factors can police once again become protectors instead of occupiers. Yet, police are not bound by these structural factors, merely influenced by them. Therefore, it is essential not to conflate the existence of structural factors with the notion that Brazilian police lack agency and are not responsible for their actions.

By Robie Mitchell, Research Associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Scapegoats of Displacement: Colombia and Venezuela Reach Border Agreement

On Monday October 12, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced he would keep the Venezuelan-Colombian border closed until a complete peace accord is reached with Bogotá. After easing tensions with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in late September, Maduro has continued to defend continued border closure. The Venezuelan President has claimed that some regions along the border have witnessed a 96% reduction in criminal activity, including terrorism, kidnapping, and murder since the initial closure in August.

By Miguel Salazar and Evelyn Estrada, Research Associates at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs

“Chapa tu Choro:” Crime, Impunity, and Public Lynching in Peru

You walk through the downtown market in a regional capital in northern Peru Adjacent to a corner between two halls four men you can only describe as “short and stocky” turn from the other hall towards you with haste. The hallway appears to be crowded, if only during the three seconds it takes for the men to push past you. You collect yourself and analyze the moment, They have your wallet, if not also your phone.

By Michael Wilson, Research Fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs

LGBT Rights in Latin America: Do Progressive Laws Equal Progressive Societies?

Over the last fifteen years, countries across Latin America have witnessed a reversal of their position on the issue of LGBT legal rights. Although this is a region of the world known for its machismo culture and the strong presence of the Catholic Church, it has been drifting away from conservative views towards a more progressive leaning faith. In 2010, Argentina was a pioneer in the region and the second country in the Americas, after Canada, to legalize same-sex marriage. Brazil and Uruguay followed suit in 2013, and since 2009 Mexico has made same sex marriage legal in some jurisdictions, including Mexico City.  Colombia, Chile, and Ecuador have also taken a step forward by allowing civil unions. Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina have started to take on more progressive attitudes towards transgender rights. Even though there has been a rapid and solid change to support LGBT rights, specifically in terms legislative changes, it would be wrong to assume that inequality, bullying, discrimination, and homophobia are no longer daily problems in Latin American countries. As a matter of fact, today we see more hate crimes in the region than fifteen years ago, which goes to show that discrimination will not go away with policy changes alone. There is a need for better education that changes this hate culture and to continue the fight against the notion that only those who are like the majority deserve equal rights and protection.

By Mariana Araujo Herrera, Research Associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Country Briefs:

On the night of October 1, 2015, hundreds of residents in the community of El Cambray II became victims of a massive landslide that buried more than 17,000 square meters of the small suburb near Guatemala City.

By Michelle Rosas Parvool, Research Associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs


One of Honduras’ most wealthy and influential families, the Rosenthals, have been recently incriminated in a drug-trafficking scandal.

By Mark Cameron, Research Associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs

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