SAN SALVADOR – Central America is one of the world’s most violent regions, with a homicide rate of 33 for every 100,000 inhabitants in 2008, more than three times the world average, according to a report by the U.N. Development Program presented Tuesday in San Salvador.
“Central America is the worst (in terms of violence), with of course the exception of Iraq, which is currently at war,” Hernando Gomez Buendia, general coordinator of the UNDP document, told Efe.
The document on Human Development for Central America 2009-2010 said that between 2003 and 2008, “murderous violence took close to 79,000 lives.”
Honduras showed the the highest rate of homicides for each 100,000 inhabitants with 58, followed by El Salvador with 52 and Guatemala with 48.
Violence “cost Central America a total of $6.506 billion in 2006 (7.7 percent of regional gross domestic product)”, the investigation said.
Gomez Buendia warned about the prevalence of drug-trafficking activities in the area.
“Central America has a propensity for drug trafficking and on top of that, it’s in a bad neighborhood,” the expert said, referring to the region’s proximity to countries like Colombia and Mexico, though he added that “not all drug traffickers are Colombians and Mexicans,” since, in his opinion, it’s not “just a problem of foreigners.”
The report, whose presentation was attended by Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes, said that the solution does not lie in enforcing “iron-fisted” policies that have given no results, nor in applying a “soft touch” either, which so easily leads to impunity, but rather a “smart” policy of preventive action and education.
The document adds that in Central America, whose population is estimated at 38 million inhabitants, there are close to 3 million firearms in circulation.
Guatemala leads the statistics with somewhat more than a million weapons distributed among its roughly 13 million people, according to official figures from 2007. EFE