In This Review

Reporte del sector de seguridad de America Latina y el Caribe
Reporte del sector de seguridad de America Latina y el Caribe
By Lucia Dammert
FLASCO-Chile, 2007, 204 pp

Opinion polls in Latin America repeatedly place personal insecurity at the top of citizens' anxieties. In some beleaguered cities, violent crime is forcing wealthy families to flee, generating a vicious downward cycle of lower investment, more unemployed youth, and yet more crime. Not trusting in the police, fearful citizens now employ some 1.6 million private security guards. Therefore, as Latin America struggles to consolidate democracy, overhauling its security forces is of paramount concern. We are indebted to a large team of mostly Latin American experts, assembled by the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO), for this exhaustive study of the region's security institutions (military, police, and intelligence). The authors lucidly provide comparative country data on such central issues as mission clarity, strategic planning capacities, fiscal transparency, and external accountability through civilian control and legislative oversight. Among its many reasonable policy recommendations, the study calls for better coordination among the various security services, results-oriented evaluation systems, and the professionalization of personnel. Throughout, the FLACSO scholars seek more effective security under civilian democratic leadership and the rule of law. We can eagerly await follow-up studies from the superb FLACSO team.