We have worked in Latin America and the Caribbean since 1971. With 155 projects in eight countries, we are currently supporting, protecting and involving 100,100 children and their families in important decisions that affect their lives.
Remarkable cultural accomplishments but also a high degree of violence and inequality
Latin America's rich history bears witness to a remarkable cultural heritage such as Machu Picchu, the fabled citadel of the Incas. Yet, the region's history has also been marred by a high degree of violence and inequality since the colonial era. There have been wars of conquest and liberation, civil wars and drug wars. All of this has had a huge impact on society, causing deep divisions and leaving large segments of the population in poverty. There are seven Latin American countries among the ten countries in the world with the highest murder rates. Today, minorities along with indigenous groups are still excluded and disadvantaged in many places.
It is the children who suffer the most under such conditions. In Guatemala, for instance, roughly 70 percent are subjected to beatings, sexual abuse and other violence at home. In Honduras nearly 20 percent of girls and boys die before their first birthday. Sixty percent of the entire population lives below the poverty line. Indigenous groups are hit particularly hard by these conditions.
A Wide Income and Inequality Gap
Educational and social systems have made considerable progress in recent years: Over 70 percent of children in Latin America attend primary school and nearly 95 percent of young people can read and write. Yet, the quality of services still remains poor in many places. Increasingly, stronger civil societies are at the vanguard of this positive development.
To make matters worse, indigenous groups and minorities are often excluded from progress, further marginalising them from the rest of society and making it more difficult for them to break out of the cycle of poverty. Children with special needs are particularly affected.Another major problem in Latin America and the Caribbean is that some countries and regions are frequently affected by natural disasters, such as Haiti (earthquake 2010), Chile (earthquake 2010), Guatemala and Honduras (hurricane 2005).