Passport asks a real good question today: should Central America's drug violence be considered a global crisis? It sure seems to me that it ought to be considered a global crisis. If it isn't, then, what would it have to do to qualify?
Passport references a report from the U.N.'s International Narcotics Control Board to describe the state of drug-related violence in Central America (briefly, there are unprecedented levels of drug trafficking, transnational and local criminal gangs, fighting between and within drug trafficking and criminal organizations operating out of Colombia and Mexico, widespread availability of firearms, and the world's highest homicide rates), and then it offers a comparison with Syria.
Just how bad is it? To put things in perspective, in Syria, where the the United Nations is debating imposing international sanctions and many are urging humanitarian intervention, an astonishing 7,500 people are estimated to have been killed in the last 11 months. With Syria's population, that's almost 37 deaths per 100,000 people.
By comparison, Honduras has a murder rate of 82.1 per 100,000, the highest in the world. It's followed by El Salvador at 66 and Jamaica at 60 -- all driven primarily by drug violence. With only 8.5 per cent of the world population, Latin America and the Caribbean account for 27 percent of homicides.
I don't mean to minimize the tragic violence of the Middle East, but it's a bit astonishing how little [attention] this carnage closer to home gets in U.S. political circles, particularly since, as the world's largest drug market, North Americans are directly implicated in it.
Seven of the top ten national homicide rates reported in the U.N.'s global homicide study are in Central America and the Caribbean. In addition to super-high Honduras, El Salvador, and Jamaica, the others are: Guatemala, Belize, Venezuela, and St. Kitts and Nevis, all with around 40 homicides per 100,000 people. For context, the homicide rate in the U.S. is 5 per 100,000, the same as the rate for Europe as a whole.
All of that carnage is fueled by drug trafficking. With so much slaughter going on year after year, why doesn't Central America get even a fraction of the humanitarian attention the international community is currently pouring all over Syria?