Violence is the main problem in Guatemala and neighboring countries, and it is a symptom of something deeper.
Carlos Mendoza has led the efforts to collect and analyze homicide data of Guatemala and the region. He has done this for a long time. See his blog on violence in Central America (a great source of data!).
With CABI, a Guatemalan research and consulting firm, Carlos monitors the evolution of homicides and writes a monthly report titled "Homicidios Guatemala." The publication is in Spanish. Three reports are out so far.
The CABI monthly report has several strengths:
- It includes data from different sources: The Police and INACIF (National Institute of Forensic Sciences). This allows Carlos to double check the accuracy of homicide trends.
- It includes geographic and gender analysis.
- It is innovative. For example, one number includes an analysis of homicide rates in border regions.
According to the report homicide rates in Guatemala are not correlated with poverty rates at the municipal level. In fact, homicide rates are higher in municipalities with higher level of human development. This is a puzzle and suggests that other variables need to be examined, such as cultural ones. Carlos acknowledges this.
The report is getting more analytical with each number.
A graph from the first number shows the evolution of the homicide rate under different administrations. Note the decreasing trend.
The report so far has not discussed the link between drug trafficking, gangs, and homicides. I am sure this will come in future numbers, although lack of data is a problem.
It remains a challenge for CABI and for scholars working on violence in the region to apply different qualitative and quantitative techniques for the better understanding of the violence. The CABI report is a solid step in this direction.