Advancing public safety is crucial in fighting poverty. That’s because, absent relative security from criminality, an individual or family must balance their pursuit of social mobility against their vulnerability to crime. This is especially problematic in terms of gang influence on children.
Yet in the current U.S. political climate, with police officers casually derided as oppressive thugs, we are witnessing what FBI Director James Comey refers to as the “Ferguson Effect”. In the aftermath of the 2014 police shooting of a common thug named Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, police officers are thinking twice before confronting criminals. The effect of this effect has been a rising violent crime rate in many major U.S. cities. And those who are suffering most are innocent Americans in high poverty-rate neighborhoods.
Still, as Americans debate this challenge, we should consider Central America. After all, looking at the example of nations like Belize, El Salvador and Jamaica, we can learn why accountable policing is crucial to society and how endemic poverty follows in its absence.
To start, note that Belize, El Salvador and Jamaica rank among the top-10 nations for homicides in the world. Second, note that Belize’s youth unemployment rate is an estimated 30 percent, and Jamaica’s is 38 percent. El Salvador fares better at 11.7 percent. Yet even if young people have a comparatively higher chance of employment in El Salvador, their economic opportunity in 2016 is restricted by criminality.
As David Gagne notes, small and medium size businesses in El Salvador frequently collapse in the face of gang extortion. At the same time, one of the key means of pursuing new opportunity — travel — is also stenotic in El Salvador. Why? Because powerful gangs maintain a reign of terror over bus networks.
But that’s not the only problem. With essentially unrestrained freedom, organized crime groups are now specifically targeting foreign visitors to El Salvador. For that reason, the State Department this month warned Americans to take extra precautions when visiting the country. And it’s a double-edged sword: by threatening foreigners, the gangs are also deterring foreign investment in their impoverished nation.
Looking at Central America we can learn why accountable policing is crucial to society and how endemic poverty follows in its absence
In Belize, a nation of under 350,000 people, the World Bank explains that economic stagnation has had a significant detrimental impact on economic opportunity — disproportionately on Belize’s indigenous Mayans. Yet Belize has also been beset by a rising tide of drug-related criminality. That criminality reflects a broader challenge posed by the absence of a reliable and professional police force: criminals take advantage of weak government and economic misfortune by dominating civil society.
In Jamaica, the challenge is slightly different but no less serious. Eight years ago, Amnesty International explained that Jamaica’s high crime rate was a direct consequence of two government failures: abandonment of high-poverty neighborhoods and a political culture that allowed gangs to control civilian lives. This poverty-criminality dynamic has meant teenage boys are intimidated into gang membership, and teenage girls are often intimidated into non-consensual sexual activity.
As Amnesty noted, “Years of state neglect have left a vacuum in these communities which has been filled by organized gangs. The state’s failure to address chronic unemployment and a lack of basic infrastructure has created the conditions in which criminal gangs have thrived. People living in these communities have little option but to turn to the gangs for access to jobs, education and medical care.”
Poverty and security always have a link or connection between them. There are many people below the poverty line and they do not have any security for their lives. So, the government should take serious actions to remove the poverty line from our country and make the country so secured so that people can have a peaceful life. Every poor people can be given some work like to do trading with Top 10 Binary Demo software and earn money for them to live.
Seven years since that report, Jamaica still has a long way to go to address this crisis. One sustaining challenge is Jamaica’s endemic political corruption. With organized criminal gangs linked to political leadership, the incentive for a serious and accountable anti-crime effort has not been forthcoming. At the same time, Jamaica’s police force has a reputation for brutality and unjustified killings. Albeit at a lower level, this impact of political malfeasance on crime can also be seen in Chicago’s current state of chaos.
Still, even amidst these poverty-crime spirals, there is hope. Civic activism, for example, can play an important role in mobilizing public concern into positive political effect. Consider Jamaica’s anti-corruption National Integrity Action (NIA) group. In a recent speech, the NIA’s director, Trevor Munroe, called for a political consensus to train Jamaican young people with employable skills, well-paid jobs and respect.
Although Munroe is an avowed leftist, his work to support social mobility and confront corruption offers a model for the region and one that the United States should support. And we Americans should be careful about disdaining our police. Absent the rule-of-law, the poorest suffer most.