Dilemma of Lawlessness: Organized Crime, Violence, Prosperity, and Security along Guatemala's Borders [open pdf - 2MB]
"For centuries, the Central American region has been among the world's most important transit zones. The Spanish shuttled the gold, silver, and other valuables from Southeast Asia and from South America across the Panamanian isthmus. Later, the French and the Americans competed to control and improve that route with a water canal, either in Panama or Nicaragua. Since the emergence of the United States as a major economy and consumer market, the region has been a key zone for the northward flow of all kinds of products-legal and illegal. Economically, the countries of Central America, particularly northern Central America (including Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador), have traditionally been among the most unequal in the Americas. Throughout most of these countries' histories, political power and state resources were controlled by the same families and networks that owned most of the land and industries. Relatively few resources and little state attention were dedicated to improving the lives of the poor, especially in isolated rural areas."
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