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.
Attorney General (AG) Consuelo Porras and International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) 11 Aug requested for third time that Supreme Court and Congress lift immunity of President Morales so he can face charges of illicit electoral financing. Supreme Court 22 August allowed pre-trial to begin. Porras and CICIG 14 Aug issued thirteen arrest warrants against politicians and business figures; police apprehended five despite govt obstruction. CICIG and Supreme Electoral Court 16 Aug signed agreement to jointly combat illicit financing in 2019 general election. Morales 31 Aug announced he will not renew CICIG mandate, which will end Sept 2019. Former AG Thelma Aldana late July confirmed willingness to stand as candidate in 2019 presidential elections. Trend of rising homicide rates continued with authorities reporting 23% increase in murders 16 June-1 Aug; 40 civil society organisations 19 Aug denounced killings of at least nineteen human rights activists and journalists in 2018; indigenous leader Juana Raymundo found dead 28 July with signs of torture. Experts 25 July voiced concern that increasingly active “citizens’ security groups” could turn into armed criminal organisations, and officials called on public not to fund them. Interior ministry 6 Aug reported only 53 of 2,000 minors separated from families by U.S. immigration authorities have returned from U.S..
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