Guatemala: “A State of Siege”

Wall Street Journal reporting (on the pay side):

The Guatemalan government declared a state of siege Sunday in a province it said has become overrun by a Mexican drug-trafficking group, the latest sign that Mexico’s powerful cartels have extended their reach into foreign lands.

The operation, which the government said would last at least a month, targets the northern province of Alta Verapaz, which officials described as a safe haven for Mexico’s Los Zetas cartel.

Alta Verapaz shares a border with Mexico and Guatemala’s lawless El Petén jungles, and has long been a transit point for drugs, arms and people.

The declaration gives broad powers to the Guatemalan military, which may now detain suspects without warrants, confiscate weapons and break up groups seen as subversive. Such measures are normally meant to combat terror groups or conspiracies against the government.

President Alvaro Colom told a Guatemalan radio station Sunday that the measures were necessary to make the region governable again and restore the rule of law, asking for Guatemalans to remain patient. The decision of Guatemala to take action against a Mexican drug-trafficking group shows their presence is growing outside Mexico’s borders and into regions where governments and law enforcement institutions are even weaker.

In 2006, Mexican President Felipe Calderón began an effort to quash the country’s organized-crime groups. The effort, supported by U.S. aid money, has resulted in the killing of many principal drug kingpins.

“Mexican drug-trafficking groups are simply moving to Guatemala as a safer place to conduct their operations,” says Anita Isaacs, a political scientist who studies Guatemala at Haverford College.

Ms. Isaacs added that Guatemala’s prior ethnic conflicts and weak judiciary make the country a particularly unstable place, and therefore ideal for organized crime.

Meanwhile, Big Sis does her best “Nothing to see here … Move along” impression.

Also, my other blog sources are reporting recently murdered U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was NOT locked and loaded with live ammo, but with … well, crap.

(H/T Weasel Zippers)

1 thought on “Guatemala: “A State of Siege””

  1. This has been going on for a while in my country, unfortunately. The department where my mother has family has been ravaged by drug cartels, along with the Mara Salvatrucha. Police corruption is rampant, and drugs have been flowing through Northern Guatemala for a long time. This whole drug war is just going to be pushed to other places once it’s controlled in one place.

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