Over the past weekend, three people were murdered in different neighborhoods of Montevideo, bringing the total number of homicides in Uruguay since August 23 to 11. The neighborhoods of Peñarol, Manga, Marconi, and Piedras Blancas are some of the places where these violent events have taken place.
The President of the Republic, Luis Lacalle Pou, said that his administration will remain faithful to its security strategy, led by the Minister of the Interior, Luis Alberto Heber, and pointed out that, from the perspective of the Executive Power, we are seeing “violence very much linked to the drug trafficking business, violence between gangs, which we are trying to prevent”.
For his part, Heber met with the Chief of Police of Montevideo, Mario D’ Elía, and with the director of the Republican Guard, César Tourn. “We have to make a detailed analysis of what each one is due to and above all coordinate with the prosecutors’ offices the possibility of formalizing those we already have as suspects,” said the minister.
The police chief explained that they are “working on the tactical application of the redeployment of the force according to each element: personal means, information that emerges from the field, and facts that we have to investigate”. He also said that the fleet and the number of personnel were evaluated, and that, precisely in September, 100 officers are leaving the force who will be linked to police stations and patrolling, to reinforce the shifts. In addition, the application of technology is being evaluated.
It should be noted that, at the beginning of August, there was already concern about the increase of violence in Uruguay, since, on the first weekend of the month, seven murders were registered.
According to the Usina de Percepción Ciudadana survey, carried out from August 26 to 29 in Uruguay, security is now considered the second most important problem in the country (tied with unemployment and the country’s economic situation in general), with the main concern being price increases. In addition, almost half of the people surveyed said that they did not see any changes in this area since the approval of the Urgent Consideration Law. This law was a referendum promoted last March by President Lacalle, which included changes in public safety, labor issues, education, and financial freedom, which was approved and doubled penalties for adolescent offenders, increased sentences for drug trafficking, and created new crimes.
On the other hand, Financial Times released a report that places Uruguay as a cocaine trafficking port, and that it is part of the “second wave of ports, where there are the facilities of Santos, Brazil, and Guayaques in Costa Rica. Paraguay, Uruguay, and Chile are the new additions.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) indicated that all 21 mainland Latin American countries, except Guyana, Belize, and El Salvador, are now “major cocaine source or transit countries”.
In this way, Uruguay joins the violent events in various Latin American countries, where drug trafficking has been the protagonist. Among these events, the explosion of houses and massacres in prisons in Ecuador; the murder of journalists in Mexico; or the death of the Paraguayan anti-narcotics prosecutor during his honeymoon in Colombia stand out.
Drug trafficking and organized crime have not only increased their territorial power, but, as experts point out, they have diversified and now not only traffic drugs but also people, operate extortion and kidnapping, trade in illegal timber and gold from the Amazon, and even sell abortion pills.
This is a tremendous concern for the entire region, which adds to the fight against corruption and the weakness of some democracies.
Image: El Pais