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The Killers’ Kindness: Gang Humanitarianism in Latin America

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Publication date14/03/2023
Place of PublicationLondon
Publishere-International Relations
Medium of outputOnline
<mark>Original language</mark>English


One of the endearing features of contemporary Latin America society is the prevalence of violent gangs. They have an obliquitous presence across Brazil, in many Caribbean islands such as Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago, throughout Central America and much of narco-infested Mexico. The gangs’ archetypal tattooed young men stand out among the region’s greatest sources of public anxiety. The society and citizenry in many of these places remain perpetually hostage to their violence and everyday mayhem. They go about their business of terrorising neighbourhoods with absolute impunity. In places like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras their indiscriminate violence against the civilian population has forced hundreds of thousands to flee these countries. These gangs, “have left near-broken societies in their wake”, across much of Latin America. As violent non-state actors perpetuating insecurity they engage in kidnapping, extortion, forced recruitment of individuals to their ranks, undertake horrific sexual violence against women, peddle narcotics and murder their rivals and bystanders with impunity.