Violence in Guatemala

World

Life is Worth Nothing in Guatemala

By  / December 02 2013 1:36 PM
Guat1

Violence is a way of life in this Central American country.   Lianne Milton

There’s a common phrase that Guatemalans say about violence in their country: En Guatemala, la vida no vale nada. In Guatemala, life is worth nothing. During the country’s bloody and genocidal 36-year civil war, about 200,000 people were killed or “disappeared” and buried in mass graves. It left a brutal legacy of violence on the social fabric of this nation of 15 million.

Just two years ago, Guatemala elected its first peacetime military leader, President Otto Perez Molina, a former army general who emerged from retirement to run on using an “iron first” to fight crime. He’s been criticized for the way he’s used the country’s military to respond to protests or combat organized crime, and has facedaccusations of human rights violations from his role in Guatemala’s civil war.

There are reports of improvement in the country, but cartel, gang, and street violence persists. A hired assassin can earn about $20 per murder. Mexican drug cartels, such as the Zetas, are new players in a complex mix of paramilitary and vigilante groups that lurk in the country’s shadowlands. Today, Guatemalans live in a society where 98 percent of all crimes go unprosecuted.

Last year, there were 34.5 murders for every 100,000 people in the country. That’s a decreased rate from previous years, although the first half of 2013 actually showed anincreasing number of murders. Violence still touches far too many lives in Guatemala, where nearly 100 people were murdered each week last year.

Visit Lianne Milton Photography

Full article and photos: http://www.newsweek.com/life-worth-nothing-guatemala-207586

12Guatemalans celebrate Dia de los Muertos by flying colorful kites to scare off bad spirits so that the dead can enjoy offerings by the families. Many Guatemalans seek solace from violence in religion. Lianne Milton

12Family members react to the death a 31-year-old man who was shot in his car in Guatemala City in 2011.  Lianne Milton

Full article and photos: http://www.newsweek.com/life-worth-nothing-guatemala-207586

Note from MissiontoMission: These murder rates are about the same for Chicago.  There are areas of Chicago and other cities where the murder rates are actually double these statistics.   That is not a statistic to be proud of – but it does bring a different perspective to this story.  There are dangerous areas in any city of the world.

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