Happy New Year everyone! We hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are looking forward to an exciting new year. The GHRC news briefs are starting up again with the following summary covering some of the more significant and important stories from the previous week, bringing us all up to speed on current events in Guatemala.
- The powerful Sinaloa Mexican drug cartel has extended its operations into Guatemala in the past year, taking advantage of the country’s mountainous geography and close proximity to Mexico. Guatemalan authorities have seen a major increase in the production of methamphetamine in clandestine laboratories throughout the northern region bordering Mexico as well as the transfer of precursor chemicals from Guatemala to Mexico. Read the article in English and analysis by InSight Crime.
- According to Guatemalan police authorities, the five most dangerous departments for police officers in Guatemala last year were Zacapa, Quetzaltenango, el Petén, Escuintla, and Guatemala. In order to combat attacks against members of the National Civil Police (PNC), five Special Police Force (FEP) bases have been installed in the departments.
- The number of deserters from the PNC increased from 64 in 2010 to 101 in 2011. According to Helen Mack, Commissioner of Police Reform, the desertions are most likely the result of lack of incentives for officers, poor working conditions, and the low wages paid to members of the PNC.
- As of January 1st, Guatemala will begin a 2-year term as a member of the Security Committee of the Organization of United Nations (ONU), which gives the country the right to participate in discussions surrounding issues of security with the goal of conserving global peace.
- Rubén Herrera, a Guatemalan notary and lawyer, has been appointed by Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz as the new Special Attorney against Impunity (FECI), which is responsible for expediting cases of high impact and advancing the fight against impunity in Guatemala.
- The National Committee on Guatemalan Migrants (Menamig) will propose a law this month to congress designed to protect the rights of migrants traveling to and residing within the United States and Canada. According to statistics from the same institution, there were 30,855 deportations of Guatemalans from the U.S.
- According to statistics released by the National Institute of Forensic Science (Inacif), Guatemala suffered an average of 17 violent deaths per day in 2011, with a total of 6,187 assassinations. Even though these numbers represent a 7.4% reduction in violent deaths from 2010, those that occurred in 2011 were performed with more brutality and cruelty. The Minister of the Interior has indicated that over 60% of assassinations in Guatemala are related to drug cartels, gangs and organized crime groups. The PNC reports different statistics, with 5,618 homicides in 2011 and an average of 15.5 per day. Central American Politics also covers the release of the homicide rates.
- An article in the Journal of Foreign Relations analyzes the possibility of a de facto amnesty law developing through the incoming Pérez Molina administration, as suggested by Jennifer Harbury and the GHRC-sponsored campaign to call the White House last month.
- HablaGuate blog has published an interview with Jean-Marie Simon, author of the book, Guatemala: Eternal Spring, Eternal Tyranny, recently republished in Spanish. Listen here.