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March 25th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) Consulting firm, FTI Consulting has published its 2014 Latin America Security Index, ranking Costa Rica as the safest country in Central America and one of the safest countries in the whole of Latin America.
Of the 19 countries identified in this ranking, the Latin America Security Index finds that Venezuela, Honduras and Guatemala are the most dangerous countries in Latin America, while Costa Rica, Chile and Uruguay are the safest.
“Over the past decade, Latin America has mostly demonstrated strong economic growth with better integration, more commitment to the weakest social sectors and with more entrenched democratic governments,” said Frank L. Holder, Chairman of Latin America for FTI Consulting and author of the Latin America Security Index. “However, social mobility and inclusion has not eliminated the scourge of public insecurity. It remains, together with organized crime, money laundering, corruption and drug trafficking, paramount on regional government agendas.”
The Latin America Security Index provides “Danger Level” rankings from one to five, with one representing a very safe country and five representing a very dangerous country.
Costa Rica, along with Uruguay and Chile ranked as twos. No country in Latin America received a “one” rating, representing a “very safe” country.
The report ranks neighboring Nicaragua as a “four,” while at the same time seeming to uphold a widely-held belief that Nicaragua is a safe country: “[Nicaragua] continues to maintain the lowest rate of insecurity in the ‘Triangle of Central America,’” the report states.
“However, [in Nicaragua] robberies with violence are high and increasing. For example, in the first month of this year, violent crimes increased by 15% in comparison to the same month the prior year,” the report adds.
Regarding Costa Rica, the report said, “[The Costa Rican government] continues with its plan to professionalize the security forces and its investment in public safety prevention programs. The country continues to maintain lower crime rates than other neighboring countries, although it has not been completely isolated from their problems.”
FTI says the report is “based on official federal, provincial and municipal-level figures, concerning areas such as homicides, felonies, organized crime and drug trafficking, cargo and warehouse theft, home invasion, kidnapping, political and labor unrest, riots and violent demonstrations, as well as analyses of the effectiveness of government programs intended to address these problems.”
In general, the report highlights that organized crime and extreme violence surrounding the activities of drug cartels and the movement of drugs from production to consumer markets continues to be a major source of public insecurity in parts of Central America and Mexico. The Index notes that social and political unrest has become a factor for some of the more troubled economies, such as Venezuela.
Costa Rican Security Minister, Mario Zamora, was quick to express his satisfaction with Costa Rica’s ranking, adding that the Ministry of Public Security has been investing heavily in security, including uniforms, body armor, communication equipment, as well as modern and fast patrol boats. The Ministry has also acquired more than 600 vehicles to enhance security throughout the country, Zamora said.
“[The ranking] will inevitably translate into better conditions for tourism and foreign investment,” Zamora said.
FTI Consulting has published the Latin America Security Index since 2007.