Of Pandillas, Pirucas, and Pablo Escobar in the Barrio

Historical Change and Continuity in Patterns of Nicaraguan Gang Violence
  • Dennis Rodgers


The putatively unprecedented rise to prominence of Central American youth gangs during the past two decades and a half is widely seen to epitomize the critical transformation that the region’s post-Cold War political economy of violence has undergone, moving from being predominantly related to ideologically-charged conflicts over the nature of the political system to being overwhelmingly characterized by more prosaic forms of violence such as delinquency and crime, including extortion and drug trafficking. At the same time, however, neither Central American gangs nor their contemporary patterns of violence are necessarily new, with the latter being traceable at least to the 1940s, for example, while extortion and drug trafficking have long been features of the region. Drawing on a historical consideration of the phenomenon’s evolution in Nicaragua, this chapter will consider the significance of both changes and continuities in youth gang trajectories and drug trafficking in order to highlight the erroneous nature of claims that the present era in Central America is unique and fundamentally different from the past.


Drug Trafficking Gang Member Rival Gang Youth Gang Latin American Study 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dennis Rodgers
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Amsterdam AmsterdamNetherlands

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