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© 2020 by The British Chamber of Commerce in Mexico.

Latin America Security Overview

September 20, 2016


On the 20th of September, the British Chamber of Commerce in Mexico hosted a breakfast-conference with  help and support of the BritChaM Security Group. Our panelist was Ricardo Salas, General Director and Representative of the Security Department at the United Nations (UN).

Mr. Salas began by asking attendees to introduce themselves, in order to make the breakfast-conference a dynamic, open dialogue and to encourage participation.  He then began his presentation by illustrating that when talking about security, it is important to consider the different types of violence and threats that today’s world faces. These include violent robberies, protests, armed gangs, natural disasters, kidnappings, accidents and more.


 Ricardo Salas, General Director and Representative of the Security Department at the United Nations (UN)



Social safety faces many challenges, particularly in Latin America. In general, governments prioritise self-maintenance over the interests of the general population. Furthermore, police are often involved in criminal activities (bribes), and organised crime (migrant and drug trafficking) is pervasive, even permeating political institutions.

Ricardo Salas continued by saying that we have seen how this lack of security costs dearly; international homicides caused 437,000 deaths in 2014, 36% of which were in the American continent (more than in Asia and Africa). Worryingly, 43 of the world’s 50 most homicidal cities are in Latin America, and 10 of those are in Mexico.


Mr. Salas said that the economic costs of violence should be taken into account. This includes insurance, healthcare services, police, investigation costs etc. He also mentioned what he called institutional costs, such as the displacement of the state’s power.


In Mexico, the economic impact of violence was $2.12 trillion pesos in 2015 (13% of Mexico’s GDP), 4% lower than the previous year. The alarming increase in the number of homicides in 2015 had a negative impact worth $31 billion pesos to the Mexican economy.

In conclusion, Latin America faces many security threats, which have extremely high costs. This prevents governments from investing their budget in other areas, slowing growth.



 Attendees enjoyed the presentation at Marquis Reforma Hotel.



After the panel, Arturo Aceves, Head of the BritChaM Security Group and VP of Security & Infrastructure at British Petroleum (BP) Mexico, began the Q&A session. The session addressed important issues, such as the perception of Mexico from the UN’s perspective, which, according to Mr. Salas, is positive. He also outlined the correct risk evaluation process and based it on the risk or threats that may harm each business’ daily operations. From his experience, Mr. Salas pointed out that when evaluating threats vs risks (a threat becomes a risk, when the percentage of probability of it happening increases), risks should be examined and, security consultants should work to mitigate risks to guarantee safe operations.


The British Chamber of Commerce would like to thank Ricardo Salas for his participation and to acknowledge the help and support of the Security Business Group.


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