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World Bank: ‘epidemic’ of Latin American urban violence has solutions

(Antonio Scorza /

An upcoming World Bank report on urban violence in Latin America and the Caribbean warns that crime has reached epidemic levels in many cities.

But there’s also a hopeful theme. The Colombian cities of Medellin and Cali, as well as Diadema, Brazil — three cities that have dramatically turned themselves around — are cited as models for other municipalities.

The study, Stop the Violence in Latin America: A Look at Prevention from Cradle to Adulthood, will be released later this year. According to the World Bank, violence can be reduced through data-focused research and initiatives that emphasize prevention and guidance for at-risk youth. The statistics are sobering. Across the region, there are 400 murders daily  24 homicides per 100,000 people, the Bank says. That equates to four slayings every four minutes.

The three cities that made themselves safer did so by tailoring solutions to their needs. Medellin dismantled dangerous drug cartels while taking other steps to make the city more livable and inclusive. (See Citiscope’s coverage of Medellin’s turnaround here and here.) Diadema recognized that alcoholism fueled much of its violence, and curbed beer and liquor sales in bars after 11 p. m. Read here how Diadema’s “community-based, public-health intervention” almost cut the homicide rate in half. 

World Bank

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