Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Guatemala army no match for Mexican drug gangs


Soldiers stand guard at a market in Coban, in the state of Alta Verapaz January 12, 2011. Credit: Reuters/Doriam Morales

Reuters/By Herbert Hernandez
COBAN, Guatemala


Guatemalan soldiers tasked with sweeping out Mexican drug cartels are finding they are outgunned and ill-equipped, raising fears of a power vacuum in parts of the country even after a 30-day military siege.

Hundreds of troops poured into the remote state of Alta Verapaz last month to attack traffickers, a surprise move by President Alvaro Colom to remobilize the army known for massacring civilians during Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war.

The 'state of siege' declared by the president ends on Wednesday but soldiers have already begun to return to their barracks and few army patrols are still operating in small towns terrorized by Mexico's feared Zetas drug gang.

As Mexico's escalating drug war spills over into Central America, Guatemala is struggling to block hugely powerful cartels from destabilizing areas of the country, a poor but democratic U.S. trading partner and a major coffee and sugar exporter.

"Organized crime is not just infiltrating us, it pains me to say it but drug traffickers have us cornered," Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom told Congress last week. "Just the weapons seized in Alta Verapaz are more than those of some army brigades."

Before Colom ordered the military operation, the Zetas were operating with impunity in Guatemala, undermining Mexico's battle against drug cartels. Officials worry Central America's weak governments are unable to contain the spreading threat of cartels in the region.

The United States is pumping $1.4 billion into the region to help governments attack drug gangs, but most of the funds are earmarked for Mexico. There, turf wars between gangs and attacks on cartels by the government have killed more than 34,000 people in the four years since President Felipe Calderon launched his own military-backed war on cartels. Less than a fifth of U.S. funds go to Central America and the Caribbean.

Patrolling in Alta Verapaz with armored cars, Guatemalan soldiers have found tortured bodies, luxury cars, assault weapons and an air strip used by drug gangs in the mountainous, coffee-growing state north of the Guatemalan capital.

They arrested at least 22 men accused of working for the Zetas, who officials say are operating in three-quarters of Guatemala's territory, a smuggling corridor for South American cocaine. Criminals have long collaborated with Mexican gangs but during the past few years the cartels have begun to move in more permanently, extorting businesses and corrupting locals.

LATENT THREAT

The army says it made important progress in Alta Verapaz, after dozens of drug-related killings late last year. "But there's still a latent threat," Colonel Marco Tulio Vasquez, head of anti-drug operations in the state, told Reuters in the town of Coban.

While the siege could be extended or troops sent elsewhere, Guatemala's army remains weak and underfunded, limiting its ability to echo Mexico's war on traffickers.

Peace accords in 1996 that ended 36 years of fighting between leftist rebels and government forces ordered the army be slashed in size, dwindling from a 50,000-strong force to just 17,000 soldiers today. Dozens of military bases, including one in Alta Verapaz, were closed.

Soldiers earn as little as $150 a month and are hired on a temporary basis. Troops often switch sides, swayed by high salaries offered by the drug cartels. The Zetas, originally formed by Mexican army deserters, have been known to recruit elite Guatemalan troops known as Kaibils who are trained in jungle warfare and infamous for brutal civil war-era abuses.

The army is more trusted than Guatemala's notoriously corrupt police, but many people are highly suspicious of men in uniform as the military struggles to shake its dark past.

Nearly a quarter of a million people, mostly native Mayans, died during the civil war, and a U.N.-backed Truth Commission report found the army committed 85 percent of the killings.

"The army still provokes bad memories," said Carmen Rosa de Leon, a human rights leader in Guatemala City.

6 comments:

  1. Guate has 15K soldiers, many poorly trained and equipped. How can they compete? A friedn deployed there says he could not believe how poor equipped the soldiers and police are, some having only machetes.

    The president of Guate has asked for another 30 days of state of siege.


    http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/01/18/2020816/caught-in-the-crossfire.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. We've said alot about the military's ability in Mexico and now Guatemala to fight the Cartels. We know it's a huge uphill battle espec. in CA.

    All the while, what's happening could topple economies. Take coffee and sugar production. What happens when the cartels run off the farmers (the producers) and destroy the land. Where will these people go for work. So many are coming here already. Left without a choice,they will likely begin to work for the cartels.

    In Mexico, border businesses are closing, in some towns maybe up to 75%. What do these people do to make a living for themselves and their employees? Resort towns are dying, people are afraid to travel there. Cancun is the next one to be greatly effected. What do these poeple do when there is no work?!!

    The cartels goals might be primarily to make huge fortunes off of illicit drugs...but when economies die, drug profit dries up too. Locked in these ridiculous battles for territory, they are too stupid to realize that eventually territory won't matter. When a country's economy dies, when there is no reason, no profit, in producing anything because it will just be stolen from you, what's left?

    Only barberism and savegery. Killing for the sake of killing. Masacre and genocide.

    Some know this.

    Now, Read about the Council on Foreign Relations and The New World Order, and see if the cartels would benefit:

    "All that is needed to effectively control a government is to have control over the nation's money: a central bank with a monopoly over the supply of money and credit. This had been done in Western Europe, with the creation of privately owned central banks such as the Bank of England.

    Georgetown professor Dr. Carroll Quigley (Bill Clinton's mentor while at Georgetown) wrote about the goals of the investment bankers who control central banks: "... nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole... controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences..."

    Do your own research. Here's a link to start:
    http://www.conspiracyarchive.com/NWO/Council_Foreign_Relations.htm

    I'm no big conspiracy theorist per se, but these notions have been around a long time. How do the cartels fit into the plan? Follow the money...

    ReplyDelete
  3. So who is this mysterious reporter for Reuters, Herbert Hernandez, that wrote us with this doubtful idea that the US organized Guatemalan military is supposedly no match for the drug cartels? It's really hard to tell because usually US government aligned Latino Right Wing thugs cover their tracks quite well.... Hernandez does also appear to double as a high official in Guatemala's second largest bank, G&T Continental de Guatemala, but cover his tracks he does... EVERYWHERE.

    A youtube video has him appearing there online in his capacity as Guatemalan Bank top dog, though that was hidden somewhat, too.

    This idea that Buela has that the Guatemalan military is underfunded with some of its soldiers equipped only with machetes is quite comical. For a true picture of just how organized these Pentagon managed thugs actually are, go see some of the films they link you to from the Guatemalan military web site. You can start here for just one example of how creepy these US allied death squad-istas really are....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7wC1SLhgdA

    Not hard to see the probable links between Reuter's 'reporter' Herbert Hernandez, the CIA, the Guatemalan military, and rich elites of Guatemala who love their second homes in Miami, and elsewhere inside the US.

    Ernest1

    ReplyDelete
  4. ''lito'brito @ http://www.litobrito.blog.com/January 18, 2011 at 11:01 PM

    @ layla

    yeap i think that is what it is all about...taking control of the drug market for the COFR affiliated folks...it all tracks back to the bank of england and the red shields

    ReplyDelete
  5. Where is Oliver North when you need him?

    ReplyDelete
  6. 'Anonymous said... Where is Oliver North when you need him?'

    Jacking off with Howard Stern.

    E1

    ReplyDelete

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