Mexico's government has pledged to focus renewed efforts on supporting the estimated 230,000 victims displaced by the country's violence last year, as international aid agencies await for the green light to begin assisting those "internal refugees" in need.
Colombia continues to have the world's largest internally displaced population, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC), with hundreds of thousands displaced in 2012 by the country's internal conflict and the activities of organized crime groups.
In April of this year, InSight Crime, with financing from the non-governmental organization Internews, met with journalists from four online news media organizations. The four represented the cream of the crop in terms of their online presence and focus, the presentation of their materials, and, of course, the quality of their investigations. And the meeting represented what we hope will be the beginning of a regional partnership with them covering the most pressing issue in the Americas: organized crime.
Researchers from the International Center for Migrant Human Rights (CIDEHUM) say that organized crime and violence have overtaken armed conflict as the main causes of displacement in Central America.
In the suburbs of El Salvador, in neighborhoods stained by Mara Salvatrucha or Barrio 18 graffiti, there are hundreds of abandoned, decaying houses. These houses tell the drama of the families who silently lived through their own history of violence: those displaced by gangs.
There are houses that talk. They scream things, recount bits and pieces of larger stories. One house has four rooms, a small terrace and a patio. From the fixtures that survived (ceramic floor, red brick decorating the outside walls, a red metal gate), one would say
Forced displacement has a long history in Latin America. For decades - and even centuries in some countries - entire villages, families and individuals have sought refuge in the nearest town or neighboring country, fleeing the crossfire between two groups and threats to their lives.
They say that during the worst times, between 1999 and 2002, when right-wing paramilitaries who went by their acronym the AUC carried out their violent assault in Catatumbo -- a jungle-covered region between Colombia and Venezuela in the northernmost part of Norte de Santander province -- about five families a day were expelled from the town of Tibu and about two a day from El Tarra. It was a common sight to see children playing, lying down on piles of coca leaves and aiming sticks at imaginary enemies, shouting in the rhythm of machine gunfire.
From September 2011 to February 2012, hundreds of families fled the Sierra Madre in Sinaloa state after criminal gangs killed locals and burnt their houses to the ground. Almost a year after the exodus, the towns are still abandoned.
Jorge had his hands covered in dough when he heard the shots that killed his neighbor Juan. He was preparing tortillas for breakfast. After the shots, he heard the voices of those who’d just killed Juan, shouting. He was startled but remained calm. At least that’s how his
The Peten province in Guatemala is a vast territory, so big you could fit the neighboring countries of Belize and El Salvador inside it. But despite its size, there is little room for co-existence and dead bodies are a common sight. "Either leave, or I’ll make you leave,” seems to be the motto here for both illegal and legal groups, including family-run drug trafficking organizations, Mexican criminal groups like the Zetas, palm plantation owners, cattle ranchers, property owners, oil men, and indigenous Q'eqchi villagers.