Challenges: Guatemala continues to serve as a major transit country for illegal drugs. Estimates state that 90 percent of narcotics moving from South America to the United States pass through the Central American/Mexican corridor, with as much as 80 percent of that amount transiting Guatemala. President Otto Perez Molina, now halfway through his term of office, continues to prioritize the fight against drug trafficking and violence, and Guatemala achieved some success in 2013 as evidenced by the increase in drug seizures. Nevertheless, the Government of Guatemala’s (GOG) fight against narcotics trafficking is hampered by the country’s weak public institutions, pervasive corruption, and lack of funding.
The country’s geographic location, crime, corruption, and limited governmental and security presence impede effective law-enforcement operations and judicial processing in general and counter narcotics efforts in particular. Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO) and Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCO) are able to move drugs, precursor chemicals, persons, and bulk cash through Guatemala with little hindrance, especially along the vast under-governed border areas. The cultivation of opium poppies, whose derivate latex gum is principally exported to Mexico, continues and increasing amounts of marijuana are grown for domestic use.
Over the past two years, President Perez Molina has raised the issue of narcotics legalization in international fora, including the OAS and UN. Notwithstanding his public call for rutas alternativas in the fight against narcotics, Perez Molina has stated that Guatemala will not unilaterally move to legalize narcotics and there does not appear to be a pullback from his administration on counter narcotics activities.
Goals: INL programs in Guatemala support the government’s efforts to reduce crime and violence; professionalize the National Civilian Police (PNC); increase the capacity of justice sector actors and institutions; counter narcotics efforts; and provide support for the recently nationalized aviation support program. The programs are carried out in accordance with the goals of the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI).