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Citizen security in Central America: theoretical and methodological aspects

Publicada en 1999

The sensation of insecurity that the citizens of our societies are experiencing during this final stretch of the century, is one of the main threats against the quality of life in democracy. The fact that our political systems have evolved from military authoritarianism into constitutional rule while, on the other hand, the citizenry perceives itself as being all the more threatened by uncontainable, uncontrolled crime, constitutes, without a doubt, a cruel paradox. 

Regardless of whether or not the crime rate actually increases, the perception of insecurity is very real and widespread, and this factor of social psychology generates detrimental effects against our democracies. In the first place, they cause public opinion to cry in favour of a search for easy solutions to the problem. And, for their part, large sectors of the constituency become easy prey to demagoguery that offers magical answers. In tum, "iron fist" proposals, the hardening of punishment, the elimination of procedural guarantees for the accused, the limitation of the judges' discretion in the passing of judgement, and the reinstatement of the death penalty, undermine the ethical foundations of our system, and push us back into authoritarianism, although this takes place behind a fai;ade put up by the decisions of the majority.