The Guatemalan government will invest some $12.6 million to buy new weapons for the National Civil Police, or PNC, a government minister said Wednesday.
Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla said at a press conference that after 10 "failed bidding processes" to buy the weapons for the PNC held between 2005 and 2011, authorities opted to make the acquisition from three different foreign manufacturers via an "exceptional agreement."
The procedure, which is allowed by law and which he justified given the "urgency" of equipping the security forces, was authorized by the President's Office and the General Comptroller's Office, Lopez Bonilla said.
The purchase of the new weaponry, the interior minister said, "will cover the deficit built up over the last three years" and will enable the 8,350 new PNC officers who currently lack equipment to be outfitted as well as standardizing "the type of weapons in accord with the needs of the service."
Guatemala will purchase 14,146 automatic pistols from Italy's Pietro Beretta company for a total cost of just over $5.7 million, along with 3,000 more pistols from Austria's Glock manufacturer for about $6.8 million. In addition, the PNC will receive 100 submachineguns purchased from Israel's Weapon Industries for $152,000.
"At last we're equipping the PNC as it deserves. We'll be able to outfit our police force without needing to be transferring weaponry" among the officers, Lopez Bonilla said.
The acquisition of the weapons, he added, will be a "great benefit for the security of Guatemalans ... (because) we will be better equipped."
The PNC, which replaced the defunct National Police, was created in 1997 as a result of the peace accords that put an end to the 36-year civil war (1960-1996). The force currently has some 25,000 officers and is the main entity responsible for the day-to-day security of Guatemala's 15 million citizens. EFE