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Mapping violence : homicides trends in Mexico and Brazil 1990-2010

  • Author(s): Arredondo Sanchez Lira, Jaime
  • Arredondo Sanchez Lira, Jaime
  • et al.

Latin America has become one of the most violent regions in the world. Public safety is now among the principal citizen's demands in some of those countries. This paper begins with a consideration of the role of police in answering the demand for public safety by local populations, and its role as a tool for exercising the state's monopoly of legitimate violence within a territory. Two relevant countries in the region, Brazil and Mexico, have undertaken police reform throughout these two decades, emphasizing lately a combination of new social and policing strategies. However, public opinion and the demand for solutions vary accordingly to changes in general crime trends; previous studies have used a methodology to understand such phenomenon. Homicides provide a good indicator of violence, since its measurement is based upon a common international methodology of mortality public health data. This research develops a new comparison approach that takes into account national tendencies, historical averages and the stability across time of homicides rates at the federal state level in Mexico and Brazil. These trends draw a general picture of violence that is helpful for future public policy discussions. The correlation between violence levels and stability of crime hold for the Brazilian case but not for Mexico, where we can observe a shift of violence to federal Border States and cities. The lack of proper crime statistics and a more detailed conceptualization of reform efforts should be address in future studies to fully understand regional tendencies and tailor local solutions

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