Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
February 5, 2009

U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala Stephen McFarland signed a letter of agreement on today with the Government of Guatemala implementing the Merida Initiative, a multi-year regional effort to combat organized crime, gangs and the trafficking of narcotics and firearms. Minister of Government Salvador Gandara signed the letter on behalf of the Guatemalan government. Today’s signing of the letter provides an initial $3,650,500 in FY2008 funding for the first year of the Merida Initiative. It obligates an additional $550,000 to the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala.

Under this agreement, the Guatemalan Ministry of Government will participate in the following five projects fully funded by the U.S. Government: Central American Fingerprint Exchange, $400,000; Central American Vetted and Sensitive Investigative Units (SIU), $500,000; Transnational Anti-Gang Initiative (TAG), $1,225,000; Improved policing and police equipment, $975,500; and improved prison management, $550,000.

Representatives of the Government of the United States and the Government of Guatemala will meet quarterly to review qualitative and quantitative progress towards achievement of the project goals and objectives. These evaluations are in addition to the ongoing monitoring of the programs and activities conducted by each government.

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PRN: 2009/105