Our Perspective

      • Violence, crime still plague Latin America | Heraldo Muñoz

        31 Jan 2013

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        More than 1,000 judges, clerks, prosecutors and police officers in Haiti received training in technical areas of criminal investigations, sex crimes or judicial inspection. Photo: UNDP Haiti

        Latin America now enjoys stronger, better integrated economies and more solid democracies than it did 20 years ago. The region is more prosperous and less poor. But epidemic crime and violence threaten to undermine recent gains and demand urgent, innovative public policy solutions. From 2000-2010, homicide rates across the region rose by 11 percent while declining in most regions worldwide. In countries with data for 1980-90, robberies have almost tripled over the last 25 years. One in 10 robberies involves violence, usually with firearms. On a typical day in Latin America, 460 people are victims of sexual violence, usually women. A recent poll found people in Latin America and the Caribbean least likely in the world to feel safe in their communities, with slightly less than half of residents reporting in 2011 that they feel unsafe walking alone at night where they live. That poses a fundamental problem in furthering development. Why open a business only to have it robbed by armed gunmen? Why send a daughter to school if she risks assault along the way? Why such insecurity in a region whose economic and governance indices are moving in the right direction? UNDP’s forthcoming Human Development Report for Latin AmericaRead More

      • Beyond mountains, Haitians see a brighter future | Heraldo Muñoz

        11 Jan 2013

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        Young women entrepreneurs in Haiti received a US$500 grant for the development of their business. Photo: UNDP in Haiti

        “Beyond the mountains, more mountains,” one Haitian proverb goes, in a nod to the outsized challenges this half-island in the Caribbean has faced for as long as anyone can remember. Topping that list is the 2010 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people, displaced 1.5 million, and racked or razed some 300,000 buildings. The quake took its deadliest aim in Haiti’s hyper-urbanized capital, causing indescribable ruin and destroying roughly 80 percent of the country’s economy. But Haitians are accustomed to scaling mountains. Government, private sector, and international organizations are working with families and communities to rebuild the country and revive its economy. Women, who head almost 50 per cent of households, are playing a leading role. Keeping Haitians and their communities as protagonists of the recovery process is fundamental. Within neighborhoods, community members themselves set priorities for rebuilding homes and infrastructure through community platform meetings, with specific attention to the unique risks facing city-dwellers—strengthening the social and communal bonds that bolster post-crisis resilience by an order of magnitude. To enable families to take charge of repairing and rebuilding their homes themselves, UNDP has established community support centres to help strengthen damaged homes in the Haitian capital, where 30,000 people have benefittedRead More

      • What we owe our youth | Heraldo Muñoz

        16 Oct 2012

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        More than 30 youth organizations, young leaders and governmental counterparts will participate in a meeting in Mexico City to boost the involvement of young people in politics in Latin America and the Caribbean. (Photo: UNDP Mexico)

        Today we kick off a three-day meeting in Mexico City to boost the involvement of young people in politics in Latin America and the Caribbean. More than 30 youth organizations, young leaders and governmental counterparts will participate. This is a crucial issue—and not only in Latin America. Almost half the world's population is under 25 and more than one third is aged 12-24. This fact, along with social and economic inequality among youth expressed in recent social movements like the Arab Spring, Spain’s 15M, Mexico’s YoSoy132 movement and the student protests in Chile reaffirm the need to address the young generation’s demands and recognize young people’s critical role in promoting social change. Of the 600 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean more than 26 percent are aged 15-29. This is a unique opportunity for the region’s development and for its present and future governance. The UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Reports have shown that young people have enormous potential as agents of change. But despite Latin America’s remarkable progress in reducing poverty and inequality—and its strides toward strong democracies with free and transparent elections—​​income, gender, ethnic origin, or dwelling conditions are all decisive barriers to young citizens’ rights.Read More