Stevan Whitehead posted this article from the UK Guardian about corruption in Guatemala on the listserve known to the adoption community as the “Big List.” The report cites shocking statistics such as “Nearly 15 years [after the Guatemalan civil war peace accords], more people die in Guatemala every year than did at the height of the civil war… a staggering 53 per 100,000.”
As someone who tries to follow Guatemalan politics, I have read many of the article’s statistics elsewhere. But to see them gathered in one place and to ponder their impact is almost mind-boggling. Will the situation ever improve? And if so, how? The irregularities committed in some (still unknown and debatable) percentage of adoptions processed in Guatemala can be viewed as only a tiny tip of the country’s enormous iceberg of corruption.
While drug-related violence along the borders of Mexico is notorious, the “even deadlier battle directly to the south has generated little comment.” Drug cartels pushed south from Mexico are now entrenched in Guatemala.
The article talks about how Presidents Arzu and Portillo “implemented key provisions of the peace accords half-heartedly, if at all.” By 2007, the country’s “clandestine criminal networks had spent a decade successfully inserting themselves into virtually every manifestation of the state.” During the 2007 electoral contest between current President Colom and Otto Perez Molina, “more than 50 candidates and party activists were slain.”
(Think about that!)
The “one ray of hope” is the CICIG, mandated in 2007 by the United Nations and ”charged with investigation of clandestine organizations.” The last paragraph sums up the situation thusly:
“Guatemala’s fragile civil society of honest officials, human rights groups and indigenous organisations desperately needs support. As the international community–and especially the United States–saw fit to pour money into the Guatemalan military machine that helped create the criminal oligarchy that now wields such power in the country, it is only just that they should now back the efforts of CICIG and honest Guatemalans in their struggle to bring this monster down. “
Please take time to read the full article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/nov/11/guatemala-mexico/print