Prosperity and Rising Crime in Latin America | Wilson Center
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Prosperity and Rising Crime in Latin America

Latin America has the world’s highest crime rate and in much of the region, crime is worsening, the opposite of the global trend. In 2015, Latin America accounted for one-third of the world’s homicides, though it is home to only one-tenth of the global population. Criminal gangs and organized crime plague Central America and Mexico; meanwhile, in relatively safe Uruguay and Argentina, crime is a growing public concern. These trends have accelerated despite economic gains that served to reduce poverty and inequality in much of Latin America.


Marcelo Bergman, director of the Centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos sobre Inseguridad y Violencia, in Buenos Aires, addresses this paradox in his latest book, More Money, More Crime: Prosperity and Rising Crime in Latin America (Oxford UP), which examines why the region’s police, courts, and prisons have failed to respond to rising crime, including increases in murder, auto theft, kidnapping, and human trafficking. Focusing on 18 countries, and relying upon new data from surveys of inmates and crime victims, Bergman looks at the challenges posed by gangs and cartels, and how rising incomes have created higher demand for stolen goods – such as mobile phones – while sophisticated criminal networks have co-opted and outfoxed the region’s criminal justice systems.


Please join us on May 30, 2019, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., to discuss Bergman’s analysis, including what countries might be vulnerable to increases in crime resulting from expanding criminal opportunities or weakening public institutions. 



Marcelo Bergman
Director, Centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos sobre Inseguridad y Violencia
Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero, Argentina


Desmond Arias 
Marxe Chair in Western Hemisphere Affairs and Professor
Baruch College 


Benjamin Gedan
Senior Adviser, Latin American Program 
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars