The northward flow of undocumented migrants fleeing economic hardship and violence in the Northern Triangle of Central America exposes thousands of vulnerable people to mass victimisation. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – Third Update early warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to continue to pursue an approach grounded in supporting community violence prevention, institutional reform and poverty alleviation in the countries of origin while supporting transiting countries in managing the flow.
Tensions between supporters and opponents of anti-corruption campaign continued to create political strain. Attorney general and International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) presented more major cases, including on 13 Feb “Transurbano” case against former president Álvaro Colom, twelve members of cabinet and three members of Urban Bus Businesses Association, allegedly part of a scheme that embezzled $35mn. Foreign minister 1 Feb met with UN Secretary-General to accuse CICIG Commissioner Ivan Velásquez of abuse of power, violations of suspects’ human rights, and ascendancy over national judicial institutions. U.S. Ambassador Luis Arreaga 12 Feb spoke in support of CICIG and Velásquez. President Morales 8 Feb met U.S. President Trump, who thanked Morales for moving Guatemala’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
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.
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.
Guatemala struggles to adhere to the rule of law. Criminal actors have ways of influencing government decisions that do not produce good conditions for investment or for economic activity in general.
A year after the election of would-be reformer Jimmy Morales as president, corruption investigations are casting a shadow over his inner circle. Recent appointments bring youth and oxygen to his faltering administration, but much still stands in the way of political renewal.
Originally published in Los Angeles Times
Originally published in Miami Herald
Originally published in Semana