Caribbean nations are overwhelmed by the economic toll of the world’s highest murder rates and need international help, said a study reported by McClatchy Newspapers. A one-third reduction in the region’s murder rate would more than double its per-capita economic growth, said the report from the World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Caribbean nations have been battling drug-fueled crime by increasing their police forces, but the report says crime rates are so bad that Caribbean governments need help from rich nations and multilateral institutions.
“The report is a starting point of putting crime on the development agenda,” said Caroline Anstey, the World Bank director for the Caribbean. The high crime rate not only is killing young people and adding to the cost of business, but it keeps tourists in safe beach enclaves rather than having them spend more money exploring other parts of the Caribbean, Anstey said. The murder rate in the Caribbean is 30 per 100,000 people, compared with 26 in Latin America and seven in the United States. Those numbers are from 2002, the last year for which worldwide comparisons are available; murders since then have risen in the Caribbean and declined in some parts of South America, said the report. Experts say the Caribbean is vulnerable to crime because of high urban density, the presence of many unemployed young people and its position as a transit point for cocaine produced in South America and consumed in the U.S. and Europe.