Development bank plans twin sessions on costs of violence

What is the financial cost of violence in Latin America? That is a question that the Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo seeks to answer Thursday and Friday.

The development bank has planned a gathering of experts and academics to discuss what it says is the dramatic impact of the cost of crime and violence in Latin American and the Caribbean.

The 20 most violent cities in the planet are located in Latin America, said the development bank.

The sessions are being held in Washington, D.C.

The development bank cited the impact of violence on the real estate market in México and Brazil as well as the consequences of domestic violence in seven Latin countries. These topics are being addressed with academic studies.

The development bank sponsored a contest for research that showed new aspects of the cost of violence in economies. The bank said it received 117 proposals and that eight were selected for presentation this week.

Although some distance away, the event will be streamed live HERE!

Although Costa Rica does not host violence on the scale of other Latin countries, the country certainly has lost some tourism dollars as a result of criminal activity at beach resorts.

A.M. Costa Rica also has reported on the cost of crimes to small merchants who faced robberies sometimes to the extent that they closed up shops.

The development bank study is not the first. The World Bank, in a report published in April 2011 said that growing crime and violence in Central America pose a tremendous threat to development potential in the region and may decrease regional gross domestic product by 8 percent, once health, institutional, private security, and material expenses are accounted for.

According to the World Bank report, these threats weaken key institutions. Existing evidence indicates that drug trafficking increases corruption levels in the criminal justice systems and tarnishes the legitimacy of state institutions in the public mind, it said. Victims of crime, on average, tend to distrust criminal justice systems more, and they also approve of taking the law into their own hands and believe less strongly that the rule of law should always be respected, the report said.

The U.N. Development Programme said last February that an increasing crime rate is threatening economies and livelihoods in Caribbean countries and that the right mix of policies and programs to tackle the problem are needed. Latin America and the Caribbean are home to 8.5 per cent of the world population, yet the region accounts for some 27 per cent of the world’s homicides, according to the U.N. report.

According to the U.N. report, crime costs Jamaica alone over $529 million a year in lost income. In Trinidad and Tobago, a 1 per cent reduction in youth crime would boost tourism revenue by $35 million per year, it said.

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