HomeNewsAnalysisRawFeed: Governor of Peten Calls for ‘State of Siege’
ANALYSIS

RawFeed: Governor of Peten Calls for ‘State of Siege’

GUATEMALA / 17 FEB 2011 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

The governor of Guatemala’s embattled frontier province Peten has asked the federal government to declare a state of siege in his department as Mexico’s cartels continue to spread their tentacles into Central America.

Once the heart of Mayan civilization, Peten is now the Guatemalan equivalent of the Wild West, where the rule of law is weak and illicit activities are common. Although crime and violence have long been a hallmark of life in Peten, its governor, Rudel Alvarez, made headlines Wednesday when he met with the Guatemalan Attorney General to publicly ask the federal government to declare a “state of siege” in Peten, similar to the emergency crackdown in neighboring Alta Verapaz.

In an interview with Guatemala’s Prensa Libre, Alvarez cited increasing crime in the department’s bio-reserve as the reason for his request, saying that “80 percent of protected areas are being used by criminal organizations for environmental crimes and illicit trafficking.” The governor went on to explain that he was influenced by increasingly concerned reports of criminal activities from Peten’s mayors.

The announcement comes just one day after unidentified gunmen killed Eddy Caceres Rodriguez, a civil judge, outside his home in Peten. As Guatemalan daily el Periodico reports, Caceres is the third judicial authority to have been killed in the department since 2009.

The deaths, as well as reports of threats to officials in the region, have prompted the Guatemalan Association of Judges and Magistrates (Asociacion de Jueces y Magistrados del Organismo Judicial – AJMOJ) to demand that the federal government establish a comprehensive security plan that provides court authorities with armed protection.

If President Colom does in fact declare a state of siege in Peten, it would likely require a much more expansive operation. The vast, sparsely-populated stretches of jungle that make it an ideal storage and transit region for drug traffickers also make it dfficult for officials to locate and crack down on drug-smuggling operations.

Additionally, the department’s large size (it accounts for roughly a third of the country’s territory) would require a major increase in troop presence in order to effectively police it. As the BBC reported in December, only 250 soldiers are currently in charge of patrolling its 5,000 square kilometers. A large army presence in Peten could be politically difficult, however, as distrust of the government is still common in the region, a legacy of the army’s abysmal human rights record during the country’s 40-year long civil war.

In order for such a large-scale operation to be politically successul, Guatemalan authorities must make more headway in Peten than they have so far in Alta Verapaz. Two months after Colom first declared a “state of siege” there, authorities have made little progress, as military officials have made only 22 arrests since the campaign began in late December. None of them have been conclusively linked to the Zetas, the Mexican cartel that operates in the region.

The Prensa Libre video can be accessed here.

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America's largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ELITES AND CRIME / 3 AUG 2015

Allegations have surfaced of irregular behavior in land purchases by Guatemala President Otto Perez Molina, triggering further speculation that the…

EXTRADITION / 19 JUL 2012

With more than a dozen suspects awaiting extradition to other countries, the director of the United Nations-backed anti-impunity body in…

MERIDA INITIATIVE / 12 OCT 2011

The alleged Iranian plot to pay the Zetas drug gang to murder a Washington ambassador sounds like the idea of…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…