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Poverty and violent crime continue to plague Guatemala over twenty years after its last left-wing guerrillas laid down their arms. More than half the population lives on less than $4 per day. Youth are particularly vulnerable to predatory street gangs. After spiking in 2009, crime rates have fallen due partly to a UN-sponsored investigative commission. But the government has terminated that body’s mandate early in response to a series of corruption probes, imperilling the fight against criminal impunity. Thousands of Guatemalans risk being robbed or assaulted on migratory routes. In its research and advocacy, Crisis Group encourages holistic reform and crime-fighting approaches that get at the root causes of insecurity.

CrisisWatch Guatemala

Unchanged Situation

After President-elect Giammattei took office 14 Jan, new govt launched corruption crackdown but civil society continued to raise concerns over alleged democratic backsliding. State prosecutors 15-16 Jan issued arrest warrants against eight senior officials for alleged corruption, prompting police to arrest former congresswoman and former mayor. Outgoing President Morales and VP Cabrera 14 Jan took oaths of office in Central American Parliament – parliamentary institution of regional organisation Central American Integration System – in Guatemala City; protesters and opposition denounced move as attempt to secure immunity from prosecution. In further attempt to delegitimise dismantled anti-corruption body International Commission against Impunity (CICIG), outgoing Congress 10 Jan recommended arrest of CICIG judges and prosecutors, accusing them of wrongdoing. Giammattei 16 Jan presented plan to create Anti-Corruption Presidential Commission to replace CICIG, and launched it 20 Jan. Controversial Law of Acceptance of Charges came into force 16 Jan, potentially reducing sentences by half for those involved in corruption cases who accept their guilt; civil society group Alliance for Reform same day filed plea against law to Constitutional Court on grounds that it promoted impunity; court same day suspended law temporarily. Caravan of migrants who departed from Honduras 15 Jan heading toward U.S. reached Guatemala-Mexico border 19 Jan; migrants clashed with Mexican security forces as Mexico, under pressure from U.S., denied them entry (see Mexico). FM Brolo 22 Jan said govt would maintain controversial Asylum Cooperation Agreement signed with U.S. in July 2019 which allows U.S. to transfer asylum seekers to Guatemala so that they can apply there.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

13 Feb 2018
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. Global Finance

Arturo Matute

Former Analyst, Guatemala

Latest Updates

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Also available in Español