Saturday, November 12, 2011

Lynchings up 500 pct in Guatemala since 2004!

According to reports in the Latin American Herald Tribune and Fox News Latino, lynchings in Guatemala have increased 500% since 2004. However, the reporting is not entirely accurate.  

The headlines should read attempted lynchings. According to the human rights office in Guatemala, there were a reported 25 attempted lynchings in 2004 and 147 attempted lynchings during the first ten months of 2011. That's the increase of 500% to which they are referring (~488% actually). {Update - And each attempted lynching might have involved several targets.)
If we are talking about the increase in successful lynchings, the numbers are actually worse. According to the numbers presented in Prensa Libre, deaths as a result of lynchings have increased from 4 in 2004 to 47 so far this year. 
Deaths as a result of lynchings, therefore, have increased nearly 1100% since 2004. And that's with two months remaining in the year. That's obviously a much worse percentage change. (There were another 911 seriously injured victims during the time period under study, but none of the articles break these down by year.)  
But then again, the increase from 2004 to 2011 is only one part of the story. If you look at the deaths as a result of lynchings by year, you find a jump from 2004 to 2005 and then again from 2008 to 2009. I would want to better understand why lynchings jumped during those years.
And here is what I think is an equally important story that should have been highlighted. Death by lynching is on pace to increase by at least 7% from 2010 to 2011. It's not as sexy as the 500% or 1100% changes, but it's what Guatemalans are living today compared to last year.

1 comment:

  1. It is sad to see this numbers. However, one thing that I feel this numbers are tacitly saying is that there is a high capacity of social coalescence, meaning that the communities where lynching happens are able to come together, to act or witness the lynch. For me this capacity of bringing community together is an indirect measure of high social capital.