GUATEMALA CITY – Most Guatemalans believe that youth gangs are more violent than they were five years ago, their members live better and have links with drug trafficking, the police and the army, according to a survey published July 23 by the daily Siglo Veintiuno.
The study, carried out by Costa Rican polling firm Demoscopia S.A., reveals that 89.3% of the 1,200 people polled between June 28 and July 8 said that the gangs are more violent than they were five years ago.
The poll found that 85% think that the gangs have the capacity to organize themselves and 84% said that the groups have links with drug trafficking and organized crime.
The survey adds that 84.3% of Guatemalans believe that the gang members have a higher living standard than they did five years ago.
And 80.4% of those polled said they thought the gang members had established alliances with corrupt cops, while 61.8% said that they have formed alliances with the army.
Also, 54.9% said that they think gangs have links with corrupt politicians and 58.4% said they felt that gangs have ties with business leaders.
Of those surveyed, 82.1% said that the measures implemented by the government to break up the gangs in Guatemala have not been effective.
In Guatemala, according to the national police, some 60,000 young people belong to gangs, the most-feared of which are the Mara Salvatrucha and Mara 18.