"One of the most dangerous areas in Central America is located along the border of Guatemala with Honduras. The murder rate is among the highest in the world. The absence of effective law enforcement has allowed wealthy traffickers to become de facto authorities in some areas, dispensing jobs and humanitarian assistance but also intimidating and corrupting local officials."
Showing posts tagged as "Guatemala"
Showing posts tagged Guatemala
"Over the past decade, drug routes through Central America have become more viciously competitive."
Corridor of Violence: The Guatemala-Honduras Border
Guatemala City/Bogotá/Brussels | 4 Jun 2014
Ending bloodshed in this neglected border region requires more than task forces: credible institutions, access to state services and continuing security are also needed.
Competition between criminal groups over drug routes has made the frontier between Guatemala and Honduras one of the most violent areas in Central America, with murder rates among the highest in the world. In the absence of effective law enforcement, traffickers have become de facto authorities in some sectors. Crisis Group’s latest report, Corridor of Violence: The Guatemala-Honduras Border, examines the regional dynamics that have allowed criminal gangs to thrive and outlines the main steps necessary to prevent further violence as well as to advance peaceful economic and social development.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
- The border corridor includes hotly contested routes for transporting drugs to the U.S. Traffickers, with their wealth and firepower, dominate some portions. On both sides of the border, violence, lawlessness and corruption are rampant, poverty rates and unemployment are high, and citizens lack access to state services.
- The arrest of local drug lords has been a mixed blessing to local populations, as the fracturing of existing groups has allowed a new generation of sometimes more violent criminals to emerge.
- To prevent further violence, an urgent shift in national policies is needed. The governments should send not just troops and police to border regions, but also educators, community organisers and social and health workers. If criminal structures are to be disrupted and trust in the state restored, these regions need credible, legitimate actors – public and private – capable of providing security, accountability, jobs and hope for the future.
- Guatemala and Honduras should learn from other countries facing similar security threats. The Borders for Prosperity Plan in Colombia and the Binational Border Plan in Ecuador and Peru can serve as examples for economic and social development in insecure areas. The U.S., Latin American countries and multilateral organisations should provide funds, training and technical support to embattled border communities to help them prevent violence and strengthen local institutions via education and job opportunities.
“Troops alone will not stop bloodshed where the state has long failed to provide law enforcement and economic growth” says Mary Speck, Mexico and Central America Project Director. “Tackling criminal violence requires sustained, concerted efforts to promote local development and guarantee rule of law”.
“Thus far, most international help has focused on border control and drug interdiction”, says Javier Ciurlizza, Latin America Program Director. “Guatemala and Honduras need a more comprehensive approach and the advice and support of other Latin American countries with similar experiences”.
Ya está disponible en nuestro blog, el análisis de Javier Ciurlizza, director para América Latina y el Caribe de International Crisis Group, sobre la controversia de la justicia transicional en Guatemala.
PHOTO: Bernardo Jurema / Crisis Group
“No hay acuerdo sobre en qué se debe hacer justicia y en qué no” | Oswaldo J.Hernandez
Resulta que algo se olvidó discutir en Guatemala, opina Javier Ciurlizza. Algo importante. Juzgar o no juzgar ciertas cosas del pasado nunca llegó a forjar un consenso, como tampoco un debate profundo. Tras la firma de la paz otros procesos avanzaron, mal que bien avanzaron. La memoria, el debate político, la discusión social. En medio de estas transiciones, Ciurlizza, director del Programa Latinoamérica y Caribe de International Crisis Group, ubica una justicia oficial que empezó a caminar por inercia, en solitario, sin tener claro qué o a quién juzgar. En consecuencia, dice, Guatemala está pagando un costo a causa del desfase temporal con que este tema ha llegado a tribunales.
ENTREVISTA COMPLETO (Plaza Pública)
Foto: INDIVIDUELL MÄNNISKOHJÄLP/Flickr
Louise Arbour: “Avanzan en sus intereses” | Sandra Valdez
Louise Arbour, presidenta de International Crisis Group y ex alta comisionada de Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos, opinó que las personas que buscan llegar a las Postuladoras para elegir a magistrados y jueces no están tratando de tener un espacio para hacer avanzar el interés general de la población, sino para los intereses de sus electores.
Arbour llegó a Guatemala para participar en el foro “Construir el futuro: los desafíos de las comisiones de postulación – Fortalecer la justicia, derrotar la impunidad”.
ARTÍCULO COMPLETO (Prensa Libre)
Fotografía: World Economic Forum/Wikimedia Commons
The OAS Position on Drugs: A (Gradual) New Approach
from Crisis Group’s blog, “Latin America Crime & Politics”
by Mary Speck, Senior Analyst, Guatemala
Representatives from 34 countries gathered in Guatemala 4-6 June for a hemispheric meeting focused on international drugs policy. Expectations among some drug-law reform advocates were high following publication of a report by the Organization of American States (OAS) cautiously suggesting that member states “assess” trends towards the “decriminalisation or legalisation of the production, sale and use of marijuana”. But the OAS annual meeting ended with a final statement that avoided controversial topics such as drug legalisation.
What did the OAS General Assembly accomplish? Are Latin American governments headed towards comprehensive reform? Crisis Group senior analyst Mary Speck discusses the ongoing debate on drugs policy in Latin America and the challenges ahead.
Statement on the Ríos Montt Conviction for Genocide, War Crimes
Guatemala City/Brussels | 13 May 2013
In a historic decision, a Guatemalan court convicted former military dictator José Efrain Ríos Montt on 10 May of genocide and crimes against humanity for the massacre, torture, rape and forced displacement of indigenous villagers during counter-insurgency campaigns in the early 1980s. The verdict is unprecedented: never before has a national court found a former head of state guilty of genocide. It sends a powerful message: no one is above the law and everyone – including indigenous communities long marginalized by discrimination and poverty – has the right to seek justice in the courts.
That the trial took place in Guatemala – a country where, as Crisis Group has reported, impunity was long the norm for abusive or corrupt officials, organised crime bosses and common criminals alike – is testament to the courage and persistence of judges, prosecutors, human rights defenders and members of the Maya-Ixil community themselves. Speaking through translators, witnesses recounted harrowing tales of murder, gang rape and flight after the army torched their villages and fields. Although truth commissions led by the UN and the Catholic Church collected similar testimonies in the 1990s, coverage of the trial allowed many Guatemalans to hear and read for the first time about atrocities committed during an armed conflict that began in 1960 and lasted for more than three decades.
By having the courage to testify in open court – subject to cross examination by defence attorneys – these witnesses may also encourage the victims of more recent crimes to come forward. Impunity feeds a vicious circle in Guatemala: because most crimes go unpunished, few bother to even report them. Opinion polls show that Guatemalans have little confidence in the courts or the police, who are often viewed as either ineffective or corrupt. But over the five-week trial, the country got a rare glimpse of an independent judiciary in action as the three-judge tribunal heard from about 100 witnesses, including indigenous survivors, psychologists, historians, forensic anthropologists and military experts.
The process is far from over. Ríos Montt’s attorneys have motions and injunctions pending in other courts that could annul the trial. They have also promised to appeal his conviction, a process that could take months or even years. Nor is Ríos Montt the only individual targeted for prosecution as a war criminal. The tribunal acquitted his co-defendant, former director of military intelligence José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, because it concluded that he had no direct command over troops. But it urged prosecutors to pursue other alleged violators. Among those now facing trial is an ex-guerrilla commander charged with massacring civilians in the village of El Aguacate.
Critics contend that these prosecutions will re-open old wounds in a country where tension is already high in many rural areas over mining and access to land or electricity. But failing to prosecute those responsible for political repression in the past would only perpetuate the cycle of impunity that encourages criminal violence today. President Otto Pérez Molina should continue to support the efforts of Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz, recipient of Crisis Group’s Pursuit of Peace Award in 2011, to bring criminals to justice, regardless of their military rank, political power or economic might. Pérez Molina has promised to respect the judicial process. By holding to that promise, he will demonstrate to the world – and more importantly to his fellow citizens – that Guatemala is no longer a country where criminals can operate without fear of prosecution.
In Guatemala, a twist as genocide trial nears end | LA Times
By Daniel Hernandez
On Tuesday, coalitions of Guatemalan army veterans, conservatives and Catholic groups placed ads or inserts in Guatemala City newspapers declaring that “genocide never occurred” in the country and that prosecutors are undermining the 1996 peace accords between the military and Marxist guerrillas.
In all, about 200,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed during decades of fighting that started in 1960 after a U.S.-backed military coup, the United Nations has found.
"There is still little consensus in Guatemala over what happened during the armed conflict or why," Mary Speck, a Guatemala-based analyst for the International Crisis Group, said by email.
"These attacks on prosecutors — including Atty. Gen. Claudia Paz y Paz — as well as on human rights groups and their international supporters are likely to increase," she said.
Photo: Sam Gibson/Flickr
An Opportunity in Guatemala: Deciding the Ríos Montt Case
By Mary Speck, Senior Analyst, Guatemala (@speckmary)
A historic case is unfolding in a Guatemalan courtroom: the trial of former military president José Efraín Ríos Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. The case sets a precedent not only in a nation whose justice system has barely begun to investigate abuses committed during the 1960-1996 armed conflict, but also internationally. This is the first time an ex-head of state has faced genocide charges before a national rather than an international court and is a key test of judicial independence for a still fragile democracy.
Crisis Group’s Guatemala Project has been attending the trial. We spoke with Senior Analyst Mary Speck about the case and its significance for Guatemala’s justice system.
Q: What exactly are the charges against Ríos Montt?
Prosecutors accuse General Ríos Montt of ordering counter-insurgency operations that resulted in the deaths of at least 1,771 people from Maya-Ixil communities in the north-western department of Quiché, as well as many rapes and torture and the forced displacement of some 29,000. They argue that Ríos Montt and his military intelligence director, José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, who faces the same charges, targeted indigenous villages for destruction, burning homes and crops and killing and brutalising men, women and children in a scorched-earth campaign against leftist guerrillas.
These massacres not only were crimes against humanity, prosecutors say, they also were genocide, a crime incorporated into Guatemalan law after ratification of the 1948 UN convention. According to the indictment, Ríos Montt is responsible for authorising and implementing military operations that defined the Maya-Ixil population as the “internal enemy” and thus targeted the entire group for elimination. Conviction on the genocide charge alone could mean 30 or more years in prison.