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The United States and Guatemala signed a one-year $6.75 million agreement to design and implement a series of preventive anti-crime activities to address the serious security situation that threatens the stability of Guatemalan society. As part of the Merida Initiative, the agreement was signed November 17 in Alta Verapaz.
Announced in October 2007, the Merida Initiative is a security cooperation agreement between Mexico and the countries of Central America aimed at combating drug trafficking, transnational crime and money laundering.
Under the Merida Initiative, the United States Agency for International Development [USAID], following the terms of the limited scope grant agreement, will implement the Merida Initiative Project: Country Plan for Guatemala. The project will focus on strengthening local capabilities to prevent delinquency and combat gang activity in Guatemala. The Project will promote locally-based models that build on successful examples developed by municipalities in the state of Alta Verapaz.
U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala Stephen G. McFarland and Guatemala's President Alvaro Colom signed the agreement in the presence of high-level Guatemalan government officials including the minister of the interior, president of Congress, attorney general, supreme court president, and technical secretary of the national security council, as well as governors, municipal mayors, and other invited guests.
The agreement includes three principal components: community-based policing; community crime and gang prevention; and community action fund. The strategies for these components will include participative and collaborative prevention to achieve a sustained and effective balance between policing, prevention, awareness-raising, and opportunities for unobstructed community development.
The new U.S. Government agreement complements the execution of Guatemala's National Security and Justice Agreement that was signed into effect in April 2009. The national agreement provides a strategic framework to guide Guatemala's efforts to enhance security sector reform processes and to reduce narco-traffic, delinquency, impunity, and violence.
The United States is committed to working with Guatemala to combat security threats to the people of Guatemala, the countries of the Central American region and the world