HomeNewsBriefGuatemala's New President Orders Army to Combat Drug Gangs
BRIEF

Guatemala's New President Orders Army to Combat Drug Gangs

GUATEMALA / 16 JAN 2012 BY EDWARD FOX EN

The newly-inaugurated president of Guatemala, Otto Perez Molina, issued an order for the army to join the country's authorities in the battle against drug gangs.

Elected in November last year on a platform that saw him promise to impose a "mano dura" (iron fist) approach to crime, Perez Molina called on the Guatemalan military to "neutralize organized crime," just one day after his inauguration on Saturday, reported the BBC.

Perez Molina, a retired army general and the first military figure to be elected since Guatemala's return to democracy in 1985, also called on the help of Mexico and the US to combat narco-trafficking in the Central American state.

Violence has been on the rise in Guatemala, with Mexican cartels in particular seizing large areas of land in the north of the country and infiltrating the police as they push production and trafficking operations south. According to a recent United Nations (UN) global report on homicide, Guatemala's current homicide rate currently stands at 41 murders per 100,000 inhabitants a year.

As an indication of the increasing levels of violence, Guatemalan Congressman Valentin Leal Caal was assassinated along with his brother prior to Saturday's inauguration. He had been a representative for the troubled northern region of Alto Verapaz where Guatemalan authorities are encountering increasing numbers of members from the Zetas drug gang.

[See InSight Crime's special report on Zetas in Guatemala]

InSight Crime Analysis

President Perez Molina's call on the armed forces to intervene marks a paradigmatic shift in Guatemala's battle with both domestic and international drug gangs. Unlike a reactionary instigation of a state of emergency, where the army would only be sent in temporarily, this is a blanket move that seeks to replicate tactics seen in Mexico and Honduras and that were heavily implemented during the tenure of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

In an interview with Guatemalan news site Plaza Publica last year, Perez Molina openly stated his admiration for Uribe's policies and announced he would like a presidency similar to his when he oversaw significant security improvements during his time as Colombia's head-of-state.

The move also panders to the US with whom the new president is seeking to restore military aid ties that were eliminated in 1978 during Guatemala's civil war. As it did with Colombia over the last decade and is doing now with Mexico, it would not be surprising to see the US join Perez Molina's drug fight and increase military aid to that country.

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

BARRIO 18 / 20 APR 2017

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene…

EL SALVADOR / 28 MAY 2018

On May 24, the US House of Representatives approved an amendment to strengthen anti-graft measures in Central America, the latest…

GUATEMALA / 22 MAR 2012

The Guatemalan defense minister says his goverment has fulfilled the necessary obligations for the US to lift its ban on…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…