Police patrol a favela in Rio after violence broke out. Photo: MAURO PIMENTEL/AFP/Getty Images

Compare the original “BRICs” countries—Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Three of them are situated in regions where rivalries among neighbors can provoke armed conflict, and where governments spend big on their militaries.

Aren’t Brazilians lucky that war in 21st century South America seems so unlikely, and that the risk of terrorism is much lower within or near their borders than in the Middle East, Asia, or Europe? 

  • Countries across the wider region of South and Central America and the Caribbean have many problems, but their armies matter more for domestic politics than for foreign policy.

But look again at  the idea of “security.” For ordinary people, crime is much more dangerous than hypothetical threats of war. Mexico’s Citizens’ Council for Public Security recently released its annual rankings of cities with the world’s highest murder rates. 

  • The top 12 cities are all in Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela.
  • In fact, 42 of the top 50 cities are in Latin America and the Caribbean, including 17 cities in Brazil alone.
  • If you count San Juan, Puerto Rico as an American city, which it is, rather than as a Caribbean city, five of the remaining eight are in the US, and three are in South Africa.  

With or without the risk of war, this form of national insecurity also comes with political, economic, and social costs.  

Sign up for Signal, a twice-weekly newsletter from GZERO Media, a Eurasia Group company.

Go deeper

5 hours ago - Technology

TikTok to pull out of Hong Kong

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

TikTok said Monday night that it would pull its social video platform out of the Google and Apple app stores in Hong Kong amid a restrictive new law that went into effect last week.

Why it matters: TikTok's move comes as many large tech companies say they are still evaluating how to respond to the Hong Kong law.

8 hours ago - World

Ethiopia's Nobel Peace laureate cracks down on ethnic violence

The image of a Nobel Peace laureate in military fatigues encapsulates the moment in which Ethiopia finds itself — on the verge of a transition to democracy, a descent into violence or, perhaps, a precarious combination of the two.

Driving the news: At least 166 people were killed after an iconic musician, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, was murdered last Monday in Addis Ababa, the capital. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed responded to the violence by sending in troops and shutting off the internet. High-profile opposition leaders were arrested, along with some 2,300 others.

Updated 9 hours ago - Health

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms tests positive for coronavirus

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said on Monday that she has tested positive for the coronavirus after displaying no symptoms.

Why it matters: Bottoms, one of several Black women on the shortlist to be Joe Biden's running mate, has risen to national prominence in recent months as part of mass protests over racism and police brutality — driven in part by the killing of Rayshard Brooks by Atlanta police.