El Salvador and Guatemala security sector reform and political party system effects on organized crime
Moran, Patrick J.
Bruneau, Thomas C.
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Since the signing of peace treaties in El Salvador and Guatemala in 1992 and 1996 respectively, both countries have experienced exploding levels of crime and violence as a result of gangs, drug trafficking organizations, and organized crime. Because both nations share many common traits, a general perception is that the causes and effects of criminal activity are similar in both countries. The patterns, causes, and effects of criminal activity, however, vary significantly between El Salvador and Guatemala. Specifically, organized crime -- with its hallmarks of violence, corruption, and penetration of state institutions -- is a problem that afflicts Guatemala much more than in El Salvador. Security sector reforms and the demilitarization of security forces in El Salvador prevented organized crime from gaining hold over time whereas police reform in Guatemala failed to purge the security apparatus of former militarized forces with ties to organized crime. A strong political party system in El Salvador acts as a gatekeeper in preventing many organized crime elements from penetrating the state while a weak party system in Guatemala allowed for much greater infiltration of illicit entities. Future policy regarding both countries should give greater attention to organized crime and political party systems.
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