Guatemalan Minister Denies Possibility of Agreement with Gangs

By Dialogo
January 28, 2013

The Guatemalan government is open to a rapprochement with gang members that are willing to renounce to violence, although they will not seek a pact with gang leaders, Guatemalan Minister of Interior Mauricio López stated on January 24.

“To consider a pact between government and gang leaders is out of the question,” the minister, who added that President Otto Pérez’ statements issued on January 23 in Davos, Switzerland were misrepresented, told the press.

Pérez said that they are “looking for a different way to deal with them [gangs], and we do not reject the option of seeking a dialog in order to stop this [violence],” in Davos, where the Guatemalan head of state is participating in the World Economic Forum.

However, the president discarded the model used in El Salvador, where gang leaders decreed a truce, after which the average daily rate of violent deaths was reduced from 15 to five nationwide.

López clarified that Pérez’s proposal does not imply a pact with the gangs, but with the organizations that are working on rehabilitation with these groups.

“If there are social groups working with gangs for their recovery or with gangs that are willing to quit these activities and are facilitating actions for others to leave that activity, the government does not disapprove of that, and it may even support talks among these groups,” he highlighted.

Last year, Pérez categorically rejected imitating the Salvadoran model because he considers gangs to be criminal groups, and the government cannot approach organizations operating outside the law.

It's good to fight crime with Dialogo, and save those people who want to leave behind the evil ways of the gangs, without forgetting that they are organized structures and many times they search for the weak spot of our governments in order to try and damage the structure in a different way; that's why the words of president Otto Perez are exact and real: the government cannot try to get close to organizations that go against the law.