Facing insecurity

Insecurity situations are the result of different sorts of violence (criminal, systemic and cultural) that, at the same time, emerge from unresolved conflicts. Therefore in order to face insecurity it will be necessary to resort to complementary sets of measures that are included in a comprehensive strategy although without subjecting some actions to others since conflicts and different sorts of violence require specificity in terms of approaches, policies and intervention methodologies. It has been stated that insecurity [[[Conflicts, violence and insecurity->http://opinionsur.org.ar/Conflicts-different-sorts-of?var_recherche=Conflicts%2C%20violence%20and%20insecurity].]], felt or real, does not respond to a single type of violence but to diverse types of violence of very different nature: criminal violence against people and their belongings which is the one that is most perceived since aggressors and victims are explicit, systemic violence derived from a society’s own way of functioning and cultural violence that legitimates systemic violence, these last two perpetrated through subtle mechanisms and procedures. It is that complex interaction between the different sorts of violence what constitutes insecurity situations. On their part, the different sorts of violence emerge from poorly resolved or unresolved conflicts, for which in order to appropriately face insecurity it will be necessary to effectively face the more serious conflicts that exist in every society so that, in the course of their resolution, criminal, systemic and cultural violence are tackled.

Criminal violence

There are different types of criminal violence and they must all be faced however with different strategies. The most serious is exercised by organized crime, criminal organizations dedicated to drug, guns and people trafficking. Due to its scale and economic power they attain complicities in the State apparatus, financial entities and within security forces themselves.

Tackling these criminal organizations requires not only directly repressing their activities but also and simultaneously dismantling their support bases. This latter demands eliminating or significantly reducing the demand for the products organized crime supplies as to annul the source of their extraordinary profits. Experience shows repression on its own cannot reduce the demand for drugs nor people trafficking although it would be much more effective if the focus is set on dismantling the leadership levels of criminal organizations since their operators at ground level are easy to replace when they are imprisoned.

The strategy to eliminate the demand that sustains organized crime has to include a permanent multidimensional action of creating awareness regarding the social consequences of consuming drugs, of forcing women to practice prostitution, of organ extraction, of slave work, of gun trafficking. In the case of drug use, this effort of creating awareness must be complemented with actions to dismantle coopting mechanisms for new young addicts in schools and other vulnerable sectors presenting options that will really motivate and mobilize the young. Although complicated, it is equally crucial to face the situation of people who have already fallen into serious addiction which requires choosing differentiated rehab approaches according to the circumstances of each segment of consumers. This task involves families, educators, social referents, media and the State.

It is pending to explore other ways to eliminate the demand for drugs that is served by criminal organizations; this is the case of the eventual decriminalization of consuming addictive substances such as marihuana. It is something that causes fiery controversies although it is gaining support given the ineffectiveness shown by traditional approaches. These measures would largely reduce the illegal circuits controlled by organized crime. Either way, any decriminalization demands appropriately regulating those consumptions the same way it is with other legal addictive substances such as alcohol and tobacco.

A crucial matter is breaking the complicities on which organized crime relies to operate both in drug trafficking as in people and guns trafficking. This involves public authorities, financial entities that facilitate illegal money laundering and segments of the security forces dedicated to repressing those criminal activities themselves. Strong political backing from the highest level of authority is required by those who develop researches and intelligence actions that enable effectively taking action on criminal activity.

In these fronts of struggle there are no isolated miraculous measures that if implemented could achieve on their own the pursued goal; diverse and well-coordinated interventions are necessary. What is indeed undeniable is that delaying taking action against organized crime implies having to face organizations of much larger economic power and connections.

On their part, crimes executed by individuals respond to a large diversity of situations that is necessary to consider while defining criminal politics. People who commit crimes come from very different socioeconomic spheres; however, repressive action and judicial sentences are usually concentrated on those who cannot hire good lawyers. There are plenty of cases where incarcerated people of scarce resources remain under custody for years without being convicted and others that without being guilty make settlements with the court to receive lighter punishments. Incarcerated people who committed crimes need to be treated attending their circumstances and in some cases also considering alternate sentences other than the deprivation of freedom. Most of them can recover if they are properly assisted.

Crime prevention –in all its dimensions (access to health, education, employment, among others) – plays a preponderant role; so does the dissuasive presence of security forces. The complement of police repression must be exercised correctly within the limits and principles that laws dictate and police intervention protocols regulate.

Systemic violence

Systemic violence, which is the one generated by a society’s own way of functioning when it rewards minorities and punishes the rest, is a masked violence whose nature is meant to disguise because it is impossible to defend in plain sight. Otherwise it would facilitate the reaction of those affected who would seek to transform the established order.

Contemporary systemic violence affects socioeconomic equity with dramatic effects in terms of poverty, destitution and growing inequality. It has its origin in the existence of tremendous economic concentration processes that generate infinity of conflicts. Large majorities have their standards of life dramatically affected (o REDUCED) along with their social and labor rights. This situation was until a few years ago typical in so called underdeveloped countries but today presents itself strongly in affluent countries such as Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Cyprus, among several others [[An analysis of the genesis and dynamic of the contemporary global crisis can be found in [Is the world burning->http://opinionsur.org.ar/Is-the-world-burning?var_recherche=is%20the%20world%20burning]?]].

The violence exercised by the system ‘downwards’ is answered with forms of violence from those who resist that imposition. This set of different sorts of violence of systemic origin can only be solved by transforming the concentration processes giving way to diverse types of sustainable and inclusive development; developments that eliminate the existing poverty and do not generate a new one; that will significantly reduce the outrageous inequalities to enable more equitable and environmentally responsible societies. Thus, the intervention forms to face conflicts derived from concentration processes and abolish the consequent different sorts of violence are related to transformational policies, not to others that seek to preserve or restore the prevailing socioeconomic order.

One of the strategic foundations is to adjust the process of value generation in each country and internationally since, the way it is structured and functioning, it generates a complex series of geopolitical, social, economic and environmental conflicts. Thus public intervention is indispensable in order to regulate how value is generated and how to redistribute it in concordance with the common good. However, some actors using force or slyness evade regulations; they thwart redistributive action and extract for their exclusive benefit a disproportionate portion of the value that is not generated by themselves alone but as a whole with the rest of the economic system; sterilizing to that extent a country or locality’s development potential.

On the countries’ level it can be assured that necessary and complementary conditions to embark on a trajectory of fair and sustainable development are adopting ways of generating value that are inclusive and environmentally responsible, ensuring an effective redistribution of some of the generated value according to the common wellbeing and firmly tackling the exploitative extraction of value. With the resources and energy thus liberated it is possible to face the constitution of other systems of socioeconomic functioning.

Certainly it is not simple to eliminate extraction of value mechanisms; it is necessary to face powerful interests that benefit from their existence and will resist losing privileges. Some of the most important mechanisms of extraction of value are [[[Differentiating generation, redistribution and extraction of value->http://opinionsur.org.ar/Differentiating-generation?var_recherche=Differentiating%20generation%2C%20redistribution%20and%20extraction%20of%20value].]] :

(i) Extraction of value by an unbridled financial speculation that does not add value and gets profits from an irresponsible risk management, access to privileged information, taking advantage of naive and vulnerable actors, illegitimately influencing policies and regulations;

(ii) extraction of value through imposing upon weak nations and/or corrupt governments extortive conditions in natural resources’ exploitation (mining, forests, fishing, aquifers);

(iii) extraction of value that unscrupulous speculators obtain by appropriating assets in a stress situation or through illegal means;

(iv) extraction of value through evading paying taxes which favors capital flight and limits the State’s capacity to provide social and productive infrastructure;

(v) extraction of value by capitalizing to someone own benefit the returns of a public investment without paying improvement contribution;

(vi) extraction of value through imposing abusive prices for having a dominant position in imperfect markets (monopolies, oligopolies);

(vii) extraction of value taking advantage of discriminatory regulation favoritism;

(viii) extraction of value through drugs, guns and people trafficking;

Every one of these mechanisms demands specific measures in order to remove them.

Cultural violence

Cultural violence is exercised by hegemonic sectors that impose institutions, values and attitudes upon the rest of society. They manage to subdue others through strength, corruption, bribes, controlling politicians and opinion leaders to make their particular perspective on the social, politic and economic agenda prevail; plus financing strategic think-tanks that legitimize their interests. They destroy diversity through the supremacy of their resources and connections and know how to align the interests of public servants and copyists in their favor. They seek through all means that the victims remain unaware of the magnitude of the damage that cultural violence causes to their identities, interests and capacity to react.

The struggle to dismantle this cultural violence lies in transforming the functioning of the media by diversifying voices and perspectives, approaches and educational contents, the symbols that subliminally sustains domination relationships, those messages and valuations that prevent new and very different referential utopias from emerging. It is an action that is present in the social, politic and economic spheres. It is about making the values and hidden interests from hegemonic sectors explicit and replacing them with others that will benefit society as a whole.

A serious problem is how the social spirit is manipulated by the media and other actors giving way to some sort of condoning and acceptance of violence as a way to face poorly resolved or unresolved conflicts. This needs to be changed through regulations and commitments of the media to eradicate biased reports towards showmanship, lightness and morbidity as it usually prevails nowadays.

A comprehensive strategy

One last reflection focuses on that different types of violence need to be faced simultaneously and the diverse measures that will be implemented need to be part of a comprehensive strategy without submitting some actions to others, clearly seeking to develop synergies and complementarities. It would be naïve to believe that, for example, solving systemic violence automatically criminal violence would be eliminated and cultural violence would be significantly reduced. None of that will happen. It is all correlated, it is true and when there is progress in one work front the circumstances to face the other sorts of violence improve; however, what is most important is operating in all fronts at the same time and in different ways since each of them requires specificity in terms of approaches, policies and intervention methodologies.

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