HomeNewsBriefGuatemala Calls on US to Resume Military Aid
BRIEF

Guatemala Calls on US to Resume Military Aid

GUATEMALA / 22 MAR 2012 BY EDWARD FOX EN

The Guatemalan defense minister says his goverment has fulfilled the necessary obligations for the US to lift its ban on military aid to the country, but President Otto Perez's recent support for drug legalization may make American lawmakers less willing to do so.

Speaking to media during a visit to Washington DC, Guatemalan Defense Minister Ulises Noe Anzueto (shown with President Perez in the photo) said, "We have complied with the declassification of military archives, we have included the issue of human rights in our military academies, and we have (addressed) the remaining concerns there were about this issue."

The United States Congress halted all military aid to Guatemala in 1990 as a result of the atrocities committed by the country's armed forces during its civil war. The restrictions were relaxed to a degree in 2007, with the purchase of helicopters for the Guatemala Air Force, as long as they were intended to be used to fight drug trafficking.

Anzueto, who is on a five-day trip to Washington, said of his visit: "That is the mission of this visit ... to show our transparency and willingness to work in the area of regional security," particularly against drug trafficking. Given Guatemala's successful completion of its obligations, Anzueto added that it is his belief that the only obstacle remaining to the restoration of aid is the lack of political will in Congress.

In separate events, Perez, speaking before business representatives at the 30th Expocomer International Trade Fair in Panama, invited the business community to join the debate on whether a new approach to the drug war is needed, stating that methods other than military efforts may provide more success, reports Prensa Libre.

InSight Crime Analysis

Since his inauguration on January 14, the message coming from President Perez's government over how to combat drug trafficking in Guatemala has been somewhat mixed. On the one hand, Perez, who was elected on the platform of imposing a "mano dura" (iron first) approach to crime, called on the Guatemalan military to "neutralize organized crime" just one day after taking office.

In contrast, Perez has also become one of the region's biggest advocates for opening regional dialogue on drug legalization, despite a lukewarm response from other Central American leaders, and an outright rejection from the US.

This seems at odds with Anzueto's emphasis on cooperation, raising questions over whether Perez's position could damage the country's attempt to have military aid restored.

However, in light of the less than enthusiastic response to his decriminalization proposals, Perez, who is set on creating a regional stance on the issue, seems to be tempering his position. As analyst James Bosworth notes, Perez has lowered expectations and is now moving toward the coordination of a strategy on drug policy ahead of an upcoming meeting between Central American leaders this weekend, realizing that obtaining a regional consensus on decriminalization is unlikely.

Furthermore, Perez's legalization stance may have the indirect effect of actually encouraging the US to quicken the return of military aid. Given Guatemala's status as a key trafficking route for narcotics on their way to the US, and the well documented incursion by the Mexican Zetas drug gang (See Part I, II, and III of InSight Crime's Zetas in Guatemala report), the US may fear that Perez's position could result in a relaxation of counter-trafficking efforts by the Guatemalan government. The US would likely want to counter this by increasing aid in an effort to appease Perez and his Defense Ministry.

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

EL SALVADOR / 23 APR 2014

In the past three years, 48,947 people were murdered in the Northern Triangle, the most violent region of the world,…

GUATEMALA / 12 FEB 2011

As Mexican drug traffickers continue to operate with impunity in Guatemala’s dense borderland jungles, the Guatemalan military is readying itself…

ELITES AND CRIME / 24 AUG 2017

Guatemala President Jimmy Morales' reported move to try to oust the head of the country's international anti-corruption body (CICIG)…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…