Covid-19 is transforming organized crime. In addition to heightening the risk of violence, the pandemic is also indirectly strengthening the social, economic, and political clout of several criminal organizations in the same way that the Italian mafia and Japanese Yakuza emerged stronger after the great dislocations of the Second World War. Crime kingpins know full well that law enforcement and criminal justice systems are overstretched, and that prisons are bursting at the seams. They also know that an economic depression is coming, which may increase the risk of violence. It is not entirely clear if governments are similarly alert.
On June 21, the Inter-American Dialogue was proud to host Juan Carlos Varela, sitting President of Panama, to discuss a variety of issues with Dialogue President, Michael Shifter. The hour-long conversation focused on confronting the current challenges in Central America, combating corruption and violence in Panama, the recent severing of ties between Taiwan and Panama, and looking ahead to next year’s Summit of the Americas in Peru.
There has been a sharp increase in the number of unaccompanied migrant children from Central America attempting to enter the United States in the past few years. This increase is also seen among adults, though to a lesser degree. As the United States, Mexico, and Central American countries struggle to address this crisis, debates have raged surrounding the humanitarian, legal, and political implications of any possible solution to this complex and troubling issue. This memo aims to inform the current debate by integrating data on issues triggering this outflow while also introducing the perspectives of the people and communities they affect. Specifically, it draws on data from 900 municipalities to analyze migrant hometowns in relation to human development,violence, and education.In addition, it presents the results of a nationwide survey in El Salvador and a survey of Central American migrants residing in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.