Conflict resolution scholars and policy-makers have traditionally prioritized research and policy measures dealing with political violence, treating criminal violence as a contextual factor in their analysis or as a subordinate policy concern. One may wonder why the value of a casualty differs depending on whether the fatal blow was caused by a tank, a gang knife, or even a typhoon. The prioritization of political violence over criminal violence seems morally unjustified considering that the killing rates in Guatemala and El Salvador are higher now than during the civil wars that ended in the 1990s. Despite similarities in the causes, manifestations, and consequences of both long-standing security challenges, violent political conflict remains an analytically distinct security challenge worthy of its own study.

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