Latidoamerica - Javier Arcenillas

Javier Arcenillas (Spain)

Long-Term Projects, third prize stories


After years of experiencing social chaos, drugs trafficking and political corruption, many Latin Americans are determined to resist the violence afflicting their homelands. Armed conflict and socio-economic collapse in a number of Latin American countries in the latter part of the 20th century forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands of people, both to neighboring states and northwards to the US. Stricter US policies in the mid-1990s led to the deportation of members of maras, Hispanic gangs formed on the streets of cities such as Los Angeles, and fueled gang warfare across Latin America. This, and violence associated with both the drugs trade and the so-called War on Drugs, has led to a number of Latin American cities ranking with the most violent in the world outside of a conflict zone.

This project describes the fear, anger and impotence of victims amidst the daily terror of street gangs, murder and thievery in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Colombia. The photographer wanted to document the heart of uncontrolled violence in Latin America, and the social and political factors that aggressively reinforce that violence, as well as the determination to end it.

Partner event:

Brookings Institution

About the Event: 

Urban violence in Latin America: Toward evidence-based security policies

During the 2000s, over 1.5 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean were killed, equivalent to 2.5 times the population of Washington, D.C. Most of these homicides were geographically concentrated and can be attributed to urban armed groups. Urban violence imposes significant economic and social costs on the region, yet policymakers and decisionmakers have little evidence and limited tools at their disposal to prevent and control it.

On Friday, September 7, the Economic and Social Policy in Latin America (ESPLA) Initiative at Brookings, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) will co-host an event to discuss evidence-based security policy in Latin America and innovations in crime prevention and reduction interventions. Panelists will offer their insights on which policies work, which do not, and what is left to learn.



  • Dany Bahar
    David M. Rubenstein Fellow - Global Economy and Development

Panel discussion


  • Daniel E. Ortega
    Nonresident Fellow - Global Economy and Development, Brookings Economic and Social Policy in Latin America Initiative
  • Christopher Blattman
    Ramalee E. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies - University of Chicago
  • Joana Monteiro
    Director-President - Institute of Public Security, Brazil
  • Daniel Mejía
    Director of Policy and Strategy - Office of the Attorney General, Colombia

The host:

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC. Our mission is to conduct in-depth research that leads to new ideas for solving problems facing society at the local, national and global level.


Friday, 7 September (PAST)


3:30PM - 5:30 PM


1775 Massachusetts Ave NW,
Washington, DC


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