Incoming Guatemalan Administration Promises to Improve Security in Six Months

By Dialogo
November 17, 2011

The administration of Otto Pérez, who will take office on January 14, will show concrete results in its first six months in the fight against the crime wave that is scourging Guatemala, acting interior minister Mauricio López promised.

“Six months is a good parameter for demonstrating that we’ve changed the way of doing things and how we’re going to tackle things,” López stated after meeting with Pérez and current president Álvaro Colom to discuss the transition process.

“If in six months there aren’t radical substantive changes that can demonstrate a difference on this issue, they surely aren’t going to demonstrate one in the following six or four years,” he added.

Official figures indicate that around 18 people die violently in Guatemala every day and that the homicide rate is 48 per 100,000 inhabitants, six times the world average.

Drug cartels, which have spread into vast areas of Guatemalan territory, are responsible for 40 percent of the deaths that occur in the country, according to President Colom.

Violence is one of the problems that will be inherited by Pérez, a retired general specialized in counterinsurgency, who based his election campaign on the promise of an “iron fist” to fight crime.

Pérez’s victory marks the return of a military man to power in Guatemala after 25 years of civilian administrations.