Central American gangs are responsible for brutal acts of violence, abuse of women and forced displacement of thousands. Governments must go beyond punitive measures and address the social and economic roots of gang culture, tackle extortion schemes and invest in communities.
International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and attorney general’s office 14 July revealed new corruption scheme allegedly led by another former minister in Patriot Party govt, Alejandro Sinibaldi. Seventeen suspects captured, fifteen still on the run including former ambassador to U.S.. CICIG Commissioner Iván Velásquez 14 July said former President Otto Pérez and former VP Baldetti may have benefitted directly from scheme. UN Secretary-General late June extended Velásquez’s contract until Sept 2019. Attorney general’s office 25 June presented Supreme Court with U.S. extradition request for former Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla, alleged to have facilitated operations of Zetas Mexican drug cartel in Guatemala.
Dramatic changes upended Guatemalan politics in 2015. Forcing the pace were international prosecutors, bolstered in their fight against corruption and impunity by a great wave of support from ordinary citizens. If Guatemala’s national reforms continue when outside help leaves, it can become a true role model for the region.
Ending bloodshed in this neglected border region requires more than task forces: credible institutions, access to state services and continuing security are also needed.
Ensuring a prompt and fair retrial of former dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt is crucial to finally bringing justice to victims of the armed conflict and to reconciling a fragile democracy with its citizens.
The killing of protestors last October was a tragedy foretold by those who have long warned against Guatemala’s use of the armed forces to maintain domestic peace.
To stem the violence that kills thousands of Guatemalans each year, the government must find the resources and will to carry out long-stalled reforms of the national police.
Originally published in Los Angeles Times
Originally published in Miami Herald
Originally published in Semana