From WEFLA 2015 Agenda: “How Can We Make Latin American Cities Safer?”

From Robert Muggah, World Economic Forum Latin America 2015, Global Agenda 5/7/15

Latin America cities are among the most violent and insecure on earth. The regional homicide rate is three times the global average and citizens consistently rank their neighbourhoods as among the world’s most dangerous. The statistics are disconcerting: 43 of the 50 most murderous cities in the world are located there.

Fortunately, the times may be changing. After decades of heavy-handed crime prevention – mano dura in the vernacular – Latin American cities are turning things around. Elected officials, private business people and civil society groups are experimenting with new approaches. In the process, they are helping to reshape the global debate on urban safety.

This revolution in urban crime prevention generated some spectacular declines in murder and victimization. The first step was to craft a new culture of citizenship, encouraging locals to regulate themselves and one another. In Bogota, for example, street mimes delivered “behaviour cards” for those who broke rules. City planners also started up women’s nights, introduced new public spaces and created observatories to track crime.

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