Guatemala: Homicides. Analyzing the Data / Steven Dudley

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla, Zacapa, and Chiquimula. The northern department of Petén, which encompasses nearly a third of the country’s land mass, also routinely has some of the highest homicide rates.[1]

There are multiple explanations for this distribution of homicides, but ther is no consensus and few systematic studies to back these theories. The first theory is that drug trafficking is at the heart of the violence in these areas. An oft-cited World Bank study on violence in Central America[2] quotes an unpublished paper by Cuevas and Demombynes.[3]The researchers used an econometric model of crime levels based on drug seizures, demographic factors that contribute to violence (large population of youth and single-mother households), a classification of areas based on whether they were conflict zones during the civil wars, and socioeconomic data. They found that drug trafficking was by far the most important of these indicators. SEE MORE…



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