Guatemala saw a 6 percent drop in murders in the first nine months of 2012 compared to the previous year, continuing a downward trend in violence in the country.
According to figures released by the national forensic institute (INACIF), the number of homicides in Guatemala so far in 2012 was 4,411, compared to 4,703 in the first nine months of the previous year.
In a separate update on homicides, the Guatemala City-based Mutual Support Group (GAM) found that there had been 4,406 homicides between January and September, and that the most violent provinces in the country were the eastern province of Chiquimula and the southern province of Esquintla. According to the GAM, these two provinces have average homicide rates of 97 and 96 per 100,000, respectively.
InSight Crime Analysis
In addition to serving as an indicator of progress in one of the most violent countries in the hemisphere, Guatemala's homicide rate has become a tricky political issue for President Otto Perez, who took office in January. In May, Perez claimed that the country had seen an 18 percent drop in homicides in the first four months of his presidency. However, official police statistics put the figure closer to 2 percent.
Still, as InSight Crime has pointed out, homicides in the country are following a downward trend. Former Interior Minister Carlos Menocal asserted in January that the homicide rate had fallen from 46 per 100,000 in 2008 to 38.61 in 2011, a claim which has been corroborated by both the National Police and crime analyst Carlos Mendoza.
Yet Guatemala is still struggling to make deeper improvements to citizen security. Efforts to reform the notoriously corrupt police force in the country have stalled, its anti-money laundering laws have been deemed "toothless," and questions persist about the efficacy of the court system.