The Dilemma of Lawlessness: Organized Crime, Violence, Prosperity, and Security Along Guatemala’s Borders. Ralph Espach, Daniel Haering, Javier Meléndez Quiñonez, and Miguel Castillo Giron. 2016. https://purl.fdlp.gov/GPO/gpo77414.

This book presents the reader with both facts and conclusions drawn from three case studies. Authors Ralph Espach, Daniel Haering, Javier Meléndez Quiñonez, and Miguel Castillo Giron focus on the lack of security along Guatemala’s borders and the serious narcotics trafficking, execution-style mass murders, and other severe public security issues that have developed as a result. This research looks closely at the effects of criminal organizations and illicit trafficking within the three particular border municipalities of Guatemala—Sayaxché, Gualán, and Malacatán. The three areas are compared demographically and economically, and through which a deeper analysis is developed on creating better border control through the behaviors of the local communities themselves.

In eighty-six pages, the reader is given some historical context and narrative timeline that explains exactly how and why these borders have been taken advantage of over time. Those that come to this book knowing little on the subject learn right in the introduction that towns close to these borders do not have access to any public assistance or authority such as a health clinic or police, thus creating ideal platforms for crime to ensue.

Readers who have more background knowledge will be impressed by the notable tables, maps, and photos throughout. Statements are drawn from interviews by area residents to really do some strong telling. The book also includes an interesting postscript written five years after the initial research, a supportive bibliography, and a helpful index.

Scholars interested in crime, security, cultural studies, along with public government and works will find The Dilemma of Lawlessness a worthy read. —Emily M. Alford (alfordem@indiana.edu), Social Sciences Librarian and Head of Government Information, Maps and Microform Services, Indiana University


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