Saturday, May 28, 2011

Stopping the Violence

As we reach the midway point of 2011, if the homicide rate in Puerto Rico continues at its current trajectory, this will yet again prove to be another violent year. There have been a total of 419 official murders reported just two weeks ago. This number surpasses, during the same period, 2011's statistics by 88 murders. Remarkably, last year was the second most violent in the island's history. Police Superintendent José Figueroa Sancha has attributed this dramatic increase to the law enforcement community's combat against drug traffickers. Nevertheless, the police chief insists that there has been a decrease in burglaries, robberies and sexual assault cases. For most people on the island though, Figueroa Sancha seems to have lost touch with reality. As if to add insult to injury, the Police Department has been mired in yet another controversy. They have reportedly been involved in fudging crime statistics, so as to make "the numbers look pretty," as one police officer puts it.

Meanwhile, in the mainland U.S, criminologists are baffled by the seemingly pretty numbers as violent crimes have hit a 40 year record-low. Crime has been cited as one of the reasons in which Puerto Ricans have been leaving the island for the mainland in droves, especially in the past decade or so. Most people are simply fed up with this wave of violence, which has even led an increasing number of people to apply for gun permits. Most recently, a hair stylist was hailed for being "daring" when she fired her gun during a robbery attempt at her beauty salon.

Violence is, of course, not solely restricted to guns and drug traffickers. Domestic violence is also quite rampant on the island. According to some mental health experts and criminologists in Puerto Rico, a large percentage of the island's population suffers from depression, as well as other psychological illnesses. This in turn has led to an ever-growing litany of societal problems, one of which is violence. In response to this situation, a group of concerned citizens have organized a march ("Marcha Alto a La Violencia") tomorrow to speak out and raise awareness over this issue which just seems to be exacerbating.

Note: The image above was obtained from the Facebook page of "Marcha Alto a La Violencia."

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