Guatemala Murders Up 8% in 2013, Bucking Downward Trend

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Guatemala has recorded more than 1,000 homicides in the first two months of 2013, a rise of 8 percent compared to the same period last year, which contrasts with the general downward trend of murders in the country.

According to Guatemala’s forensic institute (INACF), there were a total of 1,036 murders in January and February, 83 more cases than in the first two months of 2012.

President Otto Perez, however, said that though murders had been on the rise in the first 45 days of the year, they had started to decline in the last 13 days, as operations by the authorities had started to have an effect, reported elPeriodico.

InSight Analysis

The government, police and the INACF have been known to release contradictory homicide figures for Guatemala, but despite inconsistencies the overall trend has been downward for the last three years.

Whether the murder rate goes up or down over the course of the year, it is likely to remain one of the highest in the world. Guatemala’s increasing importance on the cocaine route from Colombia to the United States has driven up crime levels. Perez said that 22 percent of killing were due to organized crime, and another 21 percent to street gangs.

The presence of Mexican cartels in the country, now firmly established, has increased violence. A map of homicides in Guatemala depicts a large concentration of killings in the southwest, which may point to spillover violence from Honduras.

Compounding these issues are a corrupt police force and weak justice system which have resulted in widespread impunity.

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