Guatemala close to becoming a Narco-State

Guatemala’s weak institutions have been unable to contain drug traffickers, causing marked erosion in the authority and legitimacy of the state.

Monday, September 6, 2010


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In numerous Latin American countries, organized crime and violence are corroding governance and imperiling democratic legitimacy. This phenomenon is most severe in Guatemala, which is currently experiencing a full-blown crisis of the democratic state. An unholy trinity of criminal elements—international drug traffickers, domestically based organized crime syndicates, and youth gangs—have dramatically expanded their operations since the 1990s, and are effectively waging a form of irregular warfare against government institutions.

The effects of this campaign have been dramatic. The police, the judiciary, and entire local and departmental governments are rife with criminal infiltrators; murder statistics have surpassed civil-war levels in recent years; criminal operatives brazenly assassinate government officials and troublesome members of the political class; and broad swaths of territory are now effectively under the control of criminal groups. Guatemala’s weak institutions have been unable to contain this violence, leading to growing civic disillusion and causing marked erosion in the authority and legitimacy of the state. This problem cannot be addressed through police measures alone; combating it will require a holistic strategy that combines robust enforcement and security measures with sustained efforts to broaden socio-economic opportunities, combat corruption, and, above all, to build a stronger andmore capable state.

More on this topic

Central America: Drug Traffickers Rise to Power

November 2015

The unprecedented increase in violence in Costa Rica, once an oasis of peace in the region, is another sign of the failure of the traditional methods of fighting drugs.

EDITORIAL

More powerful than the Central American states, drug trafficking is on the rise not only in terms of an increased supply of drugs in the countries in the region, but through its permeation of institutions using the power of money and generating a growing culture of violence that is making Central America´s lack of a death penalty seem risible. Yes it does exist, but the worst part about it is that it is not institutionalized justice systems that implement it, but the mob bosses, pointing out -to ever younger executioners- the people who should be executed.

Escalation of Drug Trafficking in Central America

March 2011

The lack of government capacity and economic power disadvantage compared to the drug industry, has lead to an increase in violence and corruption.

"Using systematic violence and corruption, intimidation and extortion of public officials, the wealthy and powerful criminal groups have been able to weaken police and judicial systems.

Tourism Crisis in Guatemala

July 2010

Rampant criminality is the main cause of the decline but a lack of "clear tourism development policies from the government" is also blamed.

Marco Antonio Barahona writing for Elperiodico.com.gt comments that, "from any angle, tourism is one of the sectors that has been most hit by the various crises that have affected Guatemalans since 2008".

Reasons to Decriminalize Drugs

March 2012

Breaking what is a taboo for any incumbent ruler, President Otto Perez Molina insists on his proposal to deny a market for drug traffickers.

Insisting that applying traditional methods to tackle the scourge of drugs and drug trafficking has not been successful , Perez Molina "does not regret his bold proposal to decriminalize drugs in Central America and is excited about a discussion of this global issue."

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