Citation(s) from the literature library

Karp, Aaron. 2012 ‘Country Analyses: Guatemala.’ Measurement and Use of Statistical Data to Analyze Small Arms in the Caribbean and Latin America; Section IV, pp. 22-23. Mexico City: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Center of Excellence, National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI). 28 April

Relevant contents


The most recent data shows that Guatemala had 400,483 registered civilian firearms in 2011. This was an increase from 2009 when the total was 393,996 and 170,000 in 2000.(56) Unregistered civilian guns were estimated at 800,000 in 2005, a figure that remained in use as recently as 2010 and is used again here.(57)

In debates over the origins of illegal weapons in Mexico, Guatemala figures prominently in American refutations - by gun rights advocates and sympathetic members of Congress - of the usual Mexican narrative. While Mexican leaders stress the role of American civilian sales facilitating cross-border smuggling, American refutations stress weapons coming into Mexico from Guatemala. The presence of grenades and to a lesser extent machine guns in the hands of Mexican organized crime is stressed in these accounts, weapons unavailable in the United States but known to be diverted from Central American armed forces, especially from Guatemala, as well as El Salvador and Honduras.(58)

The Guatemalan armed forces appear to preserve large surpluses of infantry equipment, despite the reduction in active duty personnel from 44,000 in the mid-1990s to 15,000 today. The resulting arms surpluses are concealed by concomitant expansion of the country's military reserve system, which doubled to 64,000 during the same period.


56) Ana Yancy Espinoza, Arms Trafficking in Latin America: a qualitative perspective on the phenomenon - 1, unpublished manuscript for UNODC, Mexico City, 2012p. 30-31. 393,996 registered in International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). 2009. 'Registration (Registro).' Firearms and Ammunition in Guatemala (Armas de Fuego y Municiones en Guatemala), p. 61. Guatemala City: International Commision against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG). 1 December. Cited at 147,581 registered in Godnick, William and Helena Vazquez, Small Arms Control in Central America, Latin America series, no. 2 (Geneva: Small Arms Survey, 2003), p. 22. 170,000 registred and 1.6 million unregistered in "Antecedentes", Firearms Proliferation in Guatemala (Proliferación de Armas en Guatemala), p. 1. Guatemala City: Instituto de Enseñanza para el Desarrollo Sostenible (IEPADES), January 2001.

57) 800,000 unregistered from HD Bulletin: Small Arms and Human Security, Issue 6, Center for Humanitarian Dialogue, November 2005, p. 6. Also 800,000 illegal in Guatemala, Mariela Castañon, "VIOLENCIA: Destruyen 6 mil armas decomisadas por no estar registradas", La Hora (Guatemala) 17 March 2010

58) Tim Johnson, "Drug gangs help themselves to Central American military arsenals", McClatchy Newspapers, 21 April 2011; Scott Steward, "Mexico's Gun Supply and the 90 Percent Myth", Stratfor, 10 February 2011.

ID: Q10529

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