Latin America's Growing Security Gap
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The requisites of democracy and security are sometimes in conflict. Upholding the rule of law and safeguarding fundamental rights and freedoms are the hallmarks of a consolidated twenty-first-century democracy. Yet the need to guard the nation against violent domestic or transnational threats has often been used as a rationale for states to skirt the law and limit the very rights that they claim to be protecting. Striking the right balance between freedom and safety is hard, and Latin America’s history of authoritarian rule and domestic political violence makes that region especially sensitive to the difficulty of the challenge. The problem is once again on the agenda as Latin American countries, after having recently experienced a wave of democratization, now find themselves awash in record levels of crime and disorder. The region is one of the world’s most violent, with a murder rate of 32.6 per 100,000 people in 2008—a rate that has more than doubled since 2003 and is three times the global average.