Human Rights Systems in Latin America Require Sustenance
Although eradicating poverty in the world would be a monolithic achievement for mankind as the
greatest human rights challenge, documented abuses in 159 countries by governments blocking “advances in international
justice by standing above the law on human rights, shielding allies from criticism and acting only when politically convenient”
(per Amnesty International) has been a common occurrence.
Latin America, especially in recent years,
has seen incredibly violent transnational organized criminal networks competing for control of the illegal global economy.
The Organization of American States (OAS)
reports that Latin America is the region of the world with the highest murder rate.The murder rate in
Latin America is 25.6 per 100,000 residents, according to the study by the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
A significant addendum to the violent
death rate within the Western Hemisphere is the murder rate in the Caribbean.“The average
murder rate for the countries of the Caribbean is 30 per 100,000 residents.” A challenging world comparison graphically
demonstrates the murder rate “in Europe is 8.9 per 100,000 residents, while that for the Western
Pacific region is 3.4 and in Southeast Asia it is 5.8.”
Record setting murder rates in the northern triangle of Central
America are attributed to transnational criminal insurgents traversing the area from Mexico, as well as from Central and South
America. While Latin America has 8 percent of the world’s population, it is the region where 40 percent
of the world’s homicides and 66 percent of the kidnappings for ransom are committed.
Human rights issues that are also paramount to a world’s
scrutiny are those citizens no longer willing to endure systems of governance that are not built on justice and the rule of
law, and seeking accountability and transparency, and the promotion of equality.
Resistance to injustice and repression takes many forms,
often forcing many who face seemingly insuperable obstacles to sound off and, at times, inspiring acts of enormous courage
that are met with threats and attacks by corrupt government and police officials. The ultimate results routinely are continued
indifference for those seeking answers. Cuba and Venezuela are classic examples of leftist dictatorial and oppressive regimes,
with the Castro brothers and the late President Hugo Chavez.
A true democratic government generally has a clear commitment to the people by
protecting, promoting, and respecting the human rights of all without discrimination, and placing a high value on human life.
These cannot be obstacles to government, but are true indicators to measure the efforts and effectiveness of the state.
In terms of the rule of law and justice
in proactively facing violence and criminal acts, the major concerns of the OAS rights commission have been the victims and
the perpetrators of violence and crime in Latin America, people that are “between the ages of 15 and 29, with the murder
rate rising to 68.9 per 100,000 among those groups.” The homicide rate was 89.7 per 100,000 among the poor and middle
Equally disturbing is that in the last two decades
murder rates around the world have either stayed steady or declined, except in Latin America and the Caribbean where they
Effective conflict resolution in these regions will require a hemispheric partnership in adapting to and strategically
engaging the ever changing environment of criminal insurgency and countering their movement by also targeting their massive
revenues. Nations should also look within themselves for corruption at the highest levels that encourage and facilitate the
acts of organized crime and personal wealth garnered from these acts.
Democracy is distinguished from other systems by institutional response
to abuses. A nation that respects human rights “is one that not only does not commit violations, but also one in which
any instance of abuse triggers the machinery of control of the State so that such actions are investigated, prosecuted and
punished in good faith.” Latin America recently rejected leftist regimes among their ranks who were attempting to silence
the region's human rights watchdog, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The IACHR had criticized human
rights abuses in those nations governed by “authoritarian populists.” Some of the nations were attempting to suggest
reforms that would have restricted the IACHR’s budget. Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa
have previously waged a bitter feud against them. Chavez frequently hurled insults at them for their claims.
Democratic partners within the hemisphere continue to face critical security challenges,
while seeking to achieve enduring peace and shared prosperity. Commitment is needed to protect citizens and communities. Fundamental
guarantees should include freedom of speech; safeguards against tyranny and oppression; protection for vulnerable members;
the freedom to leave and return to their country; and the right to not be deprived of property without due process of law.
Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation
firm headquartered in northern Virginia. His website is located at www.cjiausa.org.