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Social cleansing (Spanish:limpieza social) is the elimination of what can be considered "undesirable" social elements, such as criminals, homosexuals, and the homeless. Clandestine organizations have engaged in social cleansing in several Latin American countries since at least the late 1980s.

Social cleansing in Guatemala

Following the 1996 peace agreement ending the Guatemalan civil war, Guatemala experienced a wave of criminal activity. Of particular concern were the activities of Mara Salvatrucha gangsters, who extorted money from small businesses and the drivers of buses and trucks, assassinating those who refused to comply. Faced with the inability of the state to maintain order, some former combatants in the civil war (both insurgents and paramilitary), organized themselves and began to murder those they had identified as criminals.[1]

Social cleansing in Colombia

Colombia has seen killings of prostitutes, street children, and criminals, since the early 1990s.[2][3]

Social cleansing in Brazil

In Brazil, homeless street children have been murdered at alarmingly high rates, since the late 1980s. It is estimated that over 7 million children are homeless in Brazil. They subsist by petty criminality, and it is believed that members of the police kill them at random.[4]

Controversy in Britain

In October 2010, Labour, Shadow Minister Chris Bryant accused the Conservative Party of implementing policy that would "cleanse" the bigger cities of poorer people, due to their housing benefit cuts.[5] Boris Johnson, Mayor of London and a Conservative, also accused the cuts of social cleansing.[6] This resulted in many political figures rebuking this claim. Some, such as Nick Clegg, claimed such a description "offensive".[7]

See also


pt:Limpeza social

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