From El Salvador (WSJ):
Politicians must ask permission of gangs to hold rallies or canvass in many neighborhoods, law-enforcement officials and prosecutors said. In San Salvador, the nation’s capital, gangs control the local distribution of consumer products, experts said, including diapers and Coca-Cola . They extort commuters, call-center employees, and restaurant and store owners. In the rural east, gangs threaten to burn sugar plantations unless farmers pay up.
At what point do we say the government has been replaced? On the analytics:
“We’ve left behind the era of the cartel and the kingpin,” said Alejandro Hope, a security consultant in Mexico City. “Today, most violence in Latin America is the result of a new system that’s more diverse, harder to control, and much more local.”
In Brazil to the south (NYT):
In Rio de Janeiro state alone, more than 5,197 people have been killed this year — far more than the 3,438 civilians killed in conflict last year in Afghanistan, according to United Nations figures.
One-quarter of those may have been killed by the state, a sign of state weakness not strength.
One approach is to view all this as a problem to be solved, and surely there is something to that attitude. Another approach, not mutually exclusive, is to view it as a problem that is getting harder to solve.