Security & Strategic Review - April 2023

PANAMA: A violent start to the year

While last year marked a halt in the trend of rising annual murder rates in Panama since 2018, the early weeks of 2023 have seen a wave of killings and attacks, prompting a targeted response from Panama’s security forces. Last October President Laurentino Cortizo’s government announced a more scientific and comprehensive crime prevention and offender rehabilitation initiative [SSR-22-12], which bore contrast to the crackdowns on criminal gangs under way in other Central American countries, such as El Salvador and Honduras. However, the recent uptick in homicides, as well as violent incidents such as a gang-related prison shootout, may prompt the Cortizo government to resort to more hardline law enforcement tactics.

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