Did Guatemala win the battle against crime?

After 18 years, Army troops are removed from the streets of the country

After 18 years, Army troops are removed from the streets of the country

Did Guatemala win the battle against crime?

Leer en español: ¿Ganó Guatemala la batalla contra la criminalidad?

Guatemala is one of the Latin American countries where gang activity contributes daily with a large share of violence and crime in the nation. For this reason, since the year 2000, the then President Alfonso Portillo, ordered the military presence in 34 municipalities of the country to control the high rates of murders, which for that time charged more than 6,000 lives per year.

After 18 years of military presence in the streets of Guatemala, the government decided to withdraw the soldiers. From 1 April, the nearly 2,000 members of the army, who still patrolled the streets, were re-concentrated in the brigades by authorization of the government of the current president, Jimmy Morales.

The Army provided accompaniment to the National Civil Police in the departments with the highest criminal incidence. Nearly 8,000 soldiers were deployed for almost two decades on the streets of Guatemala. However, according to information from the Ministry of Defense, in the last year and due to the reduction in the figures of annual murders, at least 5,600 army members had returned to their military bases.

According to information from the Police, the homicides went from 6,000 per year in the previous decade, to 4,500 registered in 2017. Although the figure only represents a 25% decrease, the State considered that the presence of the Army would no longer be necessary to control the criminality in the streets and therefore the troops would deploy at the border.

Therefore, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Defense, Colonel Oscar Pérez, told the Guatemalan News Agency (AGN) that from the National Security Council it was determined that the Ministry of the Interior and the Police had already acquired the necessary capacity to take care of civil security in the country.

Soldiers are added to the fight against drug trafficking

According to information provided by Pérez, the soldiers will be deployed in the border areas with Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador to fight against the trafficking of people, weapons, narcotics, and contraband. In addition, it is intended to protect the nation's natural and cultural heritage. This measure would be part of the agreements signed between Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador in the Alliance and Prosperity Plan, with which the US aims to help shield the Central American countries in their fight against drug trafficking.

Several specialists in the subject consider that the alarming rates of violence and crime in Guatemala are the responsibility of ex-military, businessmen, and politicians affected by the fight against corruption that the country is advancing. These people or congregations would have access to and relationship with weapons, gangs, and assassins, thus sponsoring the violent nature and common crime of the same.

As highlighted in a recent report of the United Nations Development Program, violence in Guatemala prevents the country's economic growth. This is due to the fact that the resources of the national budget are diverted from social or productive investment towards the financing of institutions responsible for public security. These organisms are overburdened by the demands that the context imposes on them.


Latin American Post | Krishna Jaramillo
Translated from “¿Ganó Guatemala la batalla contra la criminalidad?”

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