Among the root causes of poverty and crime, revolve Central America’s relationship to America and the effects of machismo.
This strife stems from the growing drug cartel presence in many Latin American nations. According to ForeignPolicy.com, “There was nearly a 40 percent increase in first-time heroin users over the past five years, and 95 percent of that heroin flows to the United States from the south.” (We Know How to End Drug Violence in Central America) In regions where little to no economic mobility is present, “cash crops” like cocaine and heroin give incentives for poor people to take part in drug trafficking. Natural competition arises and gang factions come into play with turf wars becoming prominent. To the gangs, neighborhood control is a way to survive and tactics such as physical and sexual violence are a means to an end. Due to corruption and fear of the law enforcement and citizens respectively, these gangs operate with impunity with “95 percent or more” (Eguizàbal, Cristina et al. 2014)of these crimes going unreported and examined.
Secondly, the twisted sense of masculinity that permeates these communities/gangs also brings out the worst of the drug trade. Many young men, feel inadequate, (usually due to little economic opportunity) these “young men, competing for jobs in a global market, have fewer opportunities…” (A Lethal Culture) This leaves them desiring to prove their manhood, prompting them to join gangs to not only make a living, but to assert themselves. This becomes like a “pressure-cooker” ( A Lethal Culture) with many young men exploding after years of pain and becoming the abusers they once feared. This is cyclic as many of these men are driven to a lifestyle due to paternal neglect and poverty, fulfill the same roles that later push their sons to do the same.
Factors of the growing drug trade, and secondly its effects on societal norms gives way to the growing number of crimes and poor people in Central America Without serious thought as to how to aid Central American governments in tackling these root causes, change seems nearly impossible.
Eguizàbal, Cristina, Karisa M. Curtis, Matthew C. Ingram, and Eric L. Olson. “Crime and Violence in Central America’s Northern Triangle: How U.S. Policy Response Are Helping, Hurting, and Can Be Improved.” Wilsoncenter.org. The Wilson Center, 19 Dec. 2014.
Secondary Article Links: