Guatemala to Replace Police Leadership to Strengthen Fight against Crime

By Dialogo
June 28, 2013

The Guatemalan Police director and other officials in the force will be removed in July, in an attempt by government to redirect the work of the security forces in the Central American country, which is overwhelmed by violence, official sources reported on June 26.

“We will relieve the police leadership and we will appoint a new director [at the National Civil Police (PNC)],” Minister of Interior Mauricio López said on a TV program, without specifying who will take over the position held by current Police Director Gerson Oliva.

On July 16, when the Police Force reform turns 16, the leadership in charge of preserving citizen security will be reappointed, and a “professional” and “transparent” institution will be proclaimed to “regain the trust of the Guatemalan people,” the official stated.

This measure takes place after the government announced the purchase of 25,000 pistols, 4,000 sub-machine guns, and 4,000 rifles to equip agents.

Currently, the Guatemalan PNC has 26,000 members; however, the government said that at least 6,000 do not have firearms.

According to López, the government intends to increase the number of agents to 38,000 by 2015, as well as to deploy 250 police officers per every 100,000 inhabitants.

The violence that affects Guatemala results in approximately 6,000 casualties every year, one of the highest rates in Latin America.

Authorities estimate that about 50% of deaths resulting from violence are linked to drug trafficking and turf wars between gangs or maras, which have strong arsenals of weapons.