It’s too early to tell with any degree of certainty how exactly the pandemic may have impacted levels of violence, but there were notable developments, including significant reductions in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Venezuela, historically some of the most homicidal nations in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In its annual Homicide Round-Up, InSight Crime looks into the region’s country-by-country murder rates and the factors influencing them.
Jamaica: 46.5 per 100,000
Jamaica recorded 1,301 killings in 2020 and had the region’s highest homicide rate at 46.5 per 100,000 people, according to official data published by the Constabulary Force. The United Nations considers any homicide rate of 10 per 100,000 citizens or above to be an “epidemic.” Jamaica’s total killings marked a marginal decline from 2019’s total of 1,339 murders and came as another welcome improvement over 2017’s sum of 1,647.
Breaking from an overall decrease in “serious” crimes last year, shootings across the nation rose. Gangs in Jamaica and Haiti have reportedly been engaged in a deadly trade where marijuana is exchanged for guns. Boats loaded with up to 3,000 pounds of cannabis have been heading from Jamaica to nearby Haiti, where drugs are swapped for handguns and high-powered assault weapons, according to an investigative report by the Jamaica Gleaner.
Following ongoing efforts to target gang violence through the enforcement of Zones of Special Operations and plans for mass trials last year, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness called for citizens to help curb the nation’s culture of violence in his New Year message.
Holness added that as part of Jamaica’s long-term security plan, officials intend to expand Zones of Special Operations, while modernizing technology used by its police and defense force heading into 2021.