Central America and Mexico Gang Assessment: Annex 2: Guatemala Profile   [open pdf - 394KB]

This document is Annex #2 to the principal USAID "Central America and Mexico Gang Assessment" report and covers the country of Guatemala. "Violence is undeniably not a new phenomenon in Guatemala. The 36-year civil conflict was characterized by high levels of violence, much of it state-sponsored or institutional, the effects of which continue to manifest in the country today. There are significant levels of economic, institutional, and social violence in Guatemala. Organized crime networks exploit the weak rule of law to carry out their illicit businesses of money laundering, kidnapping, and trafficking of narcotics, contraband, weapons, and people. Youth gangs have emerged on the scene as willing functionaries of these organized crime networks at one end of the spectrum and, at the other end, as their convenient criminal scapegoats. Indeed, since the end of the conflict, 'maras,' or gangs, have become public enemy number one. Despite the end of the civil conflict, there are still incidents of institutional violence in the country, including police brutality and extrajudicial killing, as the state attempts to respond to mounting pressure to address high crime levels, particularly gang violence. Levels of social violence are also elevated in Guatemala, with a very high incidence of intra-familial violence including domestic abuse, child abuse, and sexual violence, all of which contribute to perpetuating the cycle of violence within successive generations."

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