HomeNewsBriefGuatemala to Open 3 Military Bases in Drug Trafficking Hotspots
BRIEF

Guatemala to Open 3 Military Bases in Drug Trafficking Hotspots

GUATEMALA / 5 SEP 2012 BY VICTORIA ROSSI EN

The Guatemalan government will open three new military bases intended to combat drug trafficking along its borders, another sign of the country’s military-heavy response to organized crime.

The bases, located along Guatemala’s western and northern borders with Mexico, and in Puerto Barrios, the country’s main Caribbean seaport, are heavily trafficked by criminal groups, presidential spokesman Francisco Cuevas said in a September 3 press conference.

The three new headquarters will increase to five the number of military bases that President Otto Perez has installed since he was elected in 2011, El Periodico reported.

The president’s announcement followed the arrival of about 170 US marines in late August, part of a US-Guatemala joint counternarcotics operation known as “Operation Martillo”--a change in former US policy to solely provide training for Guatemalan troops.

InSight Crime Analysis

Human rights groups have warned against Guatemala’s use of the military in its fight against organized crime, saying Perez’s “iron fist” security approach stirs memories of human rights abuses committed by the army in the country’s bloody 1960-1996 civil war. The army was responsible for 93 percent of the violent acts from that period, Kesley Alford-Jones of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA told the Associated Press in August.

The military bases may be particularly unwelcome in the areas where they’ll be stationed, which are heavily populated by indigenous groups who suffered the brunt of the army’s human rights violations during the civil war.

“Rural communities in Guatemala are fearful of the military being used to combat drug traffickers because the same techniques are applied that were used in contra (counterinsurgency) warfare,” rights advocate Helen Mack told the AP.

Despite concerns about the human rights implications of Guatemala’s growing dependence on the military, the country’s security policies have had marginal success in recent years. Its homicide rate dropped by about 2 percent in the first half of 2012, with police drug chemical seizures up by 22 percent. Perez, the first ex-military president to be elected since the civil war, has also started his first term with some promising policy decisions: he kept on Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz, who helped bring the judicial system’s conviction rate for murders up from 2 percent in 2007 to 9 percent in 2011. He has also created a series of special task forces charged with investigating kidnapping, robbery, femicide, extortion, and homicide in Guatemala.

share icon icon icon

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

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.

Tags

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

CIACS / 4 APR 2018

Former Guatemala dictator and legislator Efraín Ríos Montt is dead, but he left behind a blueprint for how to undermine…

BARRIO 18 / 26 APR 2019

The variety of extortionists in Central America speaks to the ease with which opportunists can set up their own schemes.

EL SALVADOR / 9 OCT 2012

Smugglers in El Salvador are importing chemicals used to produce methamphetamine under different names, and using shell companies, posing a…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…