La Sociedad de las Américas y el Consejo de las Américas, con colaboración de la Oficina en Washington para Asuntos Latinoamericanos (WOLA), patrocinaron una mesa redonda con el ex embajador de los EEUU en Guatemala John R. Hamilton, para examinar la situación actual de la seguridad en Guatemala.
El Resumen está disponible en inglés.
One of the biggest problems Guatemala currently faces is the existence of so-called “clandestine groups.” An unresolved legacy of the 36-year internal armed conflict, these criminal groups are believed to flourish because of close ties with elements of the former State security apparatus. The individuals and groups involved oversee and profit from a variety of illegal activities, which often involve the improper exercise of influence in the State and include connections to drug trafficking, contraband, money laundering and other forms of organized criminal activities.
The inability of the justice system to effectively investigate and dismantle these groups is what inspired civil society organizations to request the participation of the international community in investigating the clandestine groups. In January 2004, the previous administration signed a landmark agreement with the United Nations (UN) to create the Commission for the Investigation of Illegal Armed Groups and Clandestine Security Organizations (CICIACS). The UN-led Commission intended to work within the legal system to investigate the structure and activities of these groups and any links they may have to former or current state actors. However, the process stalled after Guatemala’s Constitutional Court rendered key aspects of the agreement unconstitutional in August 2004.
Ambassador Hamilton addressed the extent to which the activities of the “clandestine groups” have undermined judicial and law enforcement institutions, becoming one of the biggest threats to the consolidation of democracy in Guatemala. For Guatemala to be effective in seeking the kind of investment that will generate economic growth and reduce poverty, the existence of these clandestine groups will have to be addressed. Confronting the clandestine groups is an issue that the United States government has defined as one of its top priorities in its relations with Guatemala.
In closing, Ambassador Hamilton spoke about the renewed negotiations currently underway between the United Nations and the Guatemalan government to establish the CICIACS. If established, the Commission would assist local authorities in investigating and developing prosecutable cases against these groups. Ambassador Hamilton encouraged civil society actors and the international business community to support efforts to establish the CICIACS. “The international business community invested in or interested in investing in Guatemala has a legitimate interest in being able to operate in a largely crime-free business environment. The CICIACS is a constructive, creative and innovative proposal for helping to bring such an environment to fruition.”
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