Where, why and how did gangs arise
KDH - taking responsibility
Have fun on the beach. In most Latin American countries, there is extreme poverty as well as very great wealth. Most countries are not poor overall, but a large part of society still has to live in sometimes extreme poverty. The social sciences agree that it is less general poverty than above all social inequality that leads to violence 2 and it is this that makes youth gangs a problem in many places today. In addition to some African countries, Latin American countries are among those with the greatest income and wealth inequality, above all Guatemala, Brazil, Paraguay, Panama, Mexico and El Salvador. 3 So the reasons for the formation of youth gangs were similar across Latin America, but their development and the level of violence they cause are very different today. It is striking that Latin American countries with approaches to social security systems and social integration do not have any notable gang problems, although there have been gangs there too. This applies to Argentina, Chile and Costa Rica, for example, and has long been the case for Venezuela. Nicaragua is an exception here, where there are local pandillas, but they are far less violent and criminal than in neighboring Central American countries. Lower social inequality despite very high poverty is one of the reasons for the Nicaraguan exception. The youth groups in Latin America have aged over the past few decades. Many gangs broke up when their members grew up, began to work, started families and social conditions changed so that it was no longer attractive for the next generation to join a gang. In Chile, for example, youth gangs (called pandillas here) 4 emerged in the 1980s, the decade after the Great Depression of 1979. When the general economic situation and with it the prospects of young people improved again, the gangs disappeared. In other countries - where the social situation of children and young people has not improved - youth gangs have grown and have recruited offspring from generation to generation. If they were still the primarily subcultural phenomenon of the past, that wouldn't be a big problem. Former, locally anchored gangs with a subcultural habitus have now turned into large criminal organizations. Figure on page 67: Violence is commonplace for most young people in Latin America. Above all, the youth gangs use violence as a means of pressure. Youth gangs in Latin America 67
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