HomeNewsBriefGuatemala Hospital Attack Could Boost Support for Harsh Anti-Gang Measures
BRIEF

Guatemala Hospital Attack Could Boost Support for Harsh Anti-Gang Measures

ELITES AND CRIME / 17 AUG 2017 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

A group of armed men killed at least seven people after storming one of Guatemala's largest hospitals to free a prisoner transferred there for an appointment, an event that could help garner increased public support for tougher anti-gang policies in the country.

On August 16, several alleged members of the MS13 street gang entered the Roosevelt Hospital -- one of the country's largest -- to try to free fellow gang member Anderson Daniel Cabrera Cifuentes, Prensa Libre reported

Seven people were killed in the attack, including two prison guards, two hospital workers, two children and one other victim. Twelve others were wounded. 

Cabrera Cifuentes, who managed to escape during the attack, had been in jail since 2013 for various murders and other crimes. He had been transferred to the hospital from the Fraijanes 2 maximum security prison to receive a blood test prior to an upcoming operation, Nómada reported

SEE ALSO: Guatemala News and Profiles

Roosevelt Hospital Director Carlos Soto told Prensa Libre that the hospital will no longer allow prisoners to be treated there after the assault, feelings other hospitals in the country have since echoed.

After a hospital attack in 2016 left one inmate dead, prisoners can only be transferred to a hospital for treatment by a judge's order. However, Guatemala's Interior Ministry announced that before a judge's order, the National Institute of Forensic Sciences (Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Forenses - INACIF) will now have to authorize the transfer of prisoners to hospitals for treatment, according to a press release

Guatemalan police forces arrested five of the suspected gunmen as they attempted to flee the hospital, recovering three assault rifles and a submachine gun, according to Prensa Libre. 

InSight Crime Analysis 

The sensational and deadly events at the hospital could boost public backing for hard-line anti-gang measures, which have often proven counterproductive elsewhere in the region in the past. Indeed, after the attack, Guatemala's congress proposed an "anti-terrorism" law that would classify as terrorists those who carry out similar violent attacks. The law resembles a similar measure approved last year in El Salvador that classified the country's gangs as terrorist organizations.

The hospital attack and the government's response will likely shift the public's focus away from deep and long-standing problems with corruption in the Central American nation onto the country's gangs. Although gangs clearly pose a significant threat to security in Guatemala, many forms of serious criminality have also been tied to high-level corruption.

SEE ALSO: Guatemala's Government Corruption Scandals Explained

The recent incident at the hospital could provide a justification for authorities to shift attention and resources away from anti-graft efforts, which have been attacked on numerous fronts by various powerful interests. In fact, Guatemala President Jimmy Morales has advocated for more heavy-handed security measures and recently refused to publicly support anti-graft efforts by the United Nations-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala – CICIG).

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

EL SALVADOR / 5 JUL 2021

The United States has released a highly-anticipated report on corrupt actors in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, but the lack…

ELITES AND CRIME / 19 JAN 2022

A Guatemalan judge recently heralded by the US State Department as a “woman of courage” says she is being attacked…

GUATEMALA / 23 SEP 2021

The Jalisco Cartel New Generation, which has rapidly expanded to become Mexico's greatest criminal threat, may now be spreading its…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…

THE ORGANIZATION

‘Ndrangheta Investigation, Exclusive Interview With Suriname President Make Waves

2 DEC 2022

Two weeks ago, InSight Crime published an investigation into how Italian mafia clan the ‘Ndrangheta built a cocaine trafficking network from South America to ‘Ndrangheta-controlled Italian ports. The investigation generated…