Guatemala. The capture of the Guatemalan Police Director, Baltazar Gómez and Police Antinarcotics Director, Nelly Bonilla today, also the capture of numerous Guatemalan police and military involved in drug trafficking, just confirms what we predicted in December 2008. The badly conceived anti drug war strategies designed by the US and implemented in Colombia and Mexico has made Guatemala a narco country where the corruption and infiltration of the narco power is reaching the highest levels, not only of Police and Military forces, but also reaching to high members of the government. We predicted that Guatemala would soon have more narcos then chickens.And it is happening. We just got our predictions confirmed by none other then by Frank O. Mora, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs. But the US government is about 2.5 years behind in its conclusion, and it's acceptance that they can never finance the Merida Plan for Guatemala properly.
Frank O. Mora, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said an event on hemispheric security event at the Brookings Institution in Washington D:C: on February 26, 2010, e didn't se it coming, it is a surprising consequence, that a crackdown on the drug trade in Colombia, Mexico and the Caribbean is leading traffickers to seek refuge in Central America, posing a potentially destabilizing threat to the region. They're being squeezed in some of these other areas; they're gravitating towards Central America. We within the United States-and not just the United States, the hemisphere, in fact the international community-should be able to think about what the challenge represents, not just to us, but to the stability of Central American countries," he added. With budgetary constraints and the U.S. fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mora said the Defense Department lacks the resources to invest heavily in new Central American programs.
So a Mickey Mouse version of the Merida Plan it will be.
We suggest that drugs are legalized; Guatemala collects taxes and becomes a beneficiary and not a victim of the drug problem that originates directly from the demand in the US.
If the US has another viable plan that can be implemented in "the real world", not just on paper, with proper finances to solve this problem effectively, we are all ears and will support it. Staying the course won't do it, and hasn't done it so far.
We enclose some Editorials and columns we have written since December 2008 where we manifested our concern about the war on drugs and the impact on Guatemala.
Guatemala pays high price for failed regional anti- narco strategies of the US
December 3, 2008.
Guatemala City - Sometimes it is very difficult to understand the myopic and ill conceived anti drug war strategies designed by the US and implemented in Colombia and Mexico.
Mexico gets resources to make war on narcos; Colombia gets resources to make war narcos, result: massive narco migration to Guatemala.
The US considers Mexico a priority: they are neighbours; it is a national security concern. Colombia is a priority because of the sheer volumes of revenues the narco trade generates that concerns the US, it is an economic concern. The US has their own problem with drugs -users -crime and corruption.
Guatemala is in the middle, Guatemala does not concern the US because we are unimportant to them. No economic interest, no security interest, no political interest.
So the geniuses of the US Drug war give resources to Colombia and Mexico, but no to Guatemala. Result: Guatemala will soon have more narcos then chickens. But who cares. Geopolitically Guatemala is disposable.
We have seen a brutal increase of narco violence in recent months. It is not by chance. It is related to the migration of narco cartels to Guatemala.
President Colom stated on December 2, 2008, that the war against narcoactivity has to be regional and coordinated among the affected nations. He is right; a regional coherent and consistent strategy is needed.
Meanwhile what will happen to Guatemala? We predict an increase in violent crime related to narcos. We predict a serious rupture of the social structures in the country. Mexican narcos are already in the country and have launched a war among the different cartels. The Colombian narcos will come soon enough, or they are already here. And what about a new hiding place for the FARC?
Is Guatemala going to become the garbage dump for narcos and guerrillas because of the failed regional anti narco strategy of the US?
The US is the customer of the drug. The US has responsibilities.
Is Guatemala to be sacrificed on the international chessboard of geopolitics and economic interests? Who will act in our interest?
Or will we see the Guatemalan military coming back to run the country because everyone wants security, no matter what the cost to freedom?
Guatemala coming full circle
December 17, 2008
Guatemala - "After forty years of fighting for democracy and to reduce the power of the military, Guatemala is now facing such insecurity and assault from narco activity that the population is demanding the military come back into their villages to provide security."........
............This is the ultimate irony in Guatemalan history. We fight and bleed for freedom, and now we ask the Military to please come back and make us safe, no matter the consequences to freedom, democracy and everything that has been at stake for the last 40 years.
All wiped out by insecurity. President Colom has to take the security issue as the most urgent and important problem to deal with. If he waits any longer, his government will fail utterly and completely. The measures taken so far are like band aids, they are not professional and they do not work. Colom, who fought for a free Guatemala, can be the figure who will lead the country into a total chaos and delivers us right back into the hands of the military, and we even will be grateful for it. He has gotten the worst advice about national security issues; and we do not think that this is a coincidence. It is a plan to destabilize the country.
This can not be.
We recommend to Colom to follow the advice of Carlos Castresana, the head of CICG commission. CICIG urges national agreement to fight violence in Guatemala
We also recommend that President Colom starts to DEMAND support for the fight against the Narcos from the US. For the complete article go to: http://www.guatemala-times.com/opinion/editorial/645-guatemala-coming-full-circle.html
US war on drugs failed says Latin American Commission.
13 FEBRUARY 2009
Latin-American Commission on Drugs and Democracy Releases Groundbreaking Report,The Latin-American Commission on Drugs and Democracy (co-chaired by former presidents, Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazil), César Gaviria (Colombia) and Ernesto Zedillo (Mexico)) Releases Groundbreaking Report
The Latin-American Commission on Drugs and Democracy was founded by former presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazil), César Gaviria (Colombia) and Ernesto Zedillo (Mexico), and including the writers Paulo Coelho, Mario Vargas Llosa, Sergio Ramírez and Tomás Eloy Martínez as well as leading scholars, media and politicians, the commission assessed the limits and negative consequences of repressive "war on drugs" policies in Latin America. The creation of this commission followed the 10-year review of global drug policies within the United Nations, which began in March 2008 and will be finalized at a ministerial meeting in March 2009 in Vienna, Austria.
Statement by Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance
"This report represents a major leap forward in the global drug policy debate. It's not the first high-level commission to call the drug war a failure, nor is it the first time any Latin American leader has criticized the prohibitionist approach to global drug control. But it is the first time that such a distinguished group of Latin Americans, including three highly regarded ex-presidents, have gone so far in their critique of U.S. and global drug policy and recommendations for what needs to be done.
This report breaks new ground in many ways, placing itself at the cutting edge of current debates on the future of global drug control policy. This is evident in its call for a "paradigm shift," in its recognition of the important role of "harm reduction" precepts and policies, in its push for decriminalization of cannabis, in its critique of "the criminalization of consumption," and, most importantly, in its conclusion that: "The deepening of the debate concerning the policies on drug consumption must be grounded on a rigorous evaluation of the impact of the diverse alternatives to the prohibitionist strategy that are being tested in different countries, focusing on the reduction of individual and social harm." An ever growing number of Latin American leaders from across the political spectrum recognize that the prohibitionist approach to drug control has wreaked havoc throughout the region, generating crime, violence and corruption on a scale that far exceeds what the United States experienced during alcohol Prohibition in the 1920s. Many believe - and a handful have said publicly -- that the better solution would be to abandon drug prohibition and move in the direction of legally regulating the global drug markets that are now illegal.
The members of this commission no doubt recognized that such a bold recommendation would be dismissed out of hand by the U.S. and other governments. But they had the wisdom to insist on "breaking the taboo" that has inhibited vigorous debate and analysis of all drug policy alternatives.
The seventeen members of this commission speak not just for themselves but for thousands of other distinguished Latin Americans, and many others around the world, who recognize that global drug policy cannot produce better results until open debate is no longer suppressed and censored. Hopefully this commission report will soon win the endorsements of political and other leaders throughout the world, and result quickly in legislative and other hearings in national capitals, including Washington, D.C."
The commission's proposals for more effective and humane strategies, presented in the document "Drugs and Democracy: Towards a Paradigm Shift," are grounded in three precepts:
• Treat drug use as a public health issue;
• Reduce consumption through information and prevention actions;
• Focus on enforcement against organized crime.
The Commission also invites governments and societies to "assess in the light of public health and advanced medical science the possibility of decriminalizing possession of marijuana for personal consumption." Ending the silence and breaking the taboo that blocks vigorous debate on drug policy alternatives is a precondition for each country to find innovative solutions appropriate to its history and its culture. For more information on the work of the Commission and its proposals, please visit www.drugsanddemocracy.org.
Source: Drug Policy Alliance Network
Guatemala's security crisis, important sequence of events Guatemala's security crisis, important sequence of events
01 APRIL 2009
To understand the security crisis in Guatemala, the efforts to dismantle impunity and the organized crime response to these efforts, the context of the events need to be but in perspective. A chronological order of events dating from the 2007 Presidential election to date is presented to the reader.
1. The presidential election process in 2007 is marred by high levels of violence and killings of different party members. The race is between the status quo candidate, ex-military, ally of Guatemala's usual power structure, Otto Peres Molina and the Social Democrat Alvaro Colom who has no strong alliance with the old military power structure.
2. Just before the presidential elections in December 2007 a systematic plan of attacks and murders of bus drivers in the city of Guatemala causes alarm. Accusations are launched against Presidential Candidate Otto Perez Molina to be the brains behind the organized violence. The accusation was never proven.
3. Increased violence related to organized crime and narco activity starts in 2008.
4. Guatemala's society is alarmed by the increase in violent crime, kidnappings and narco massacres in 2008.
5. October 3, Meeting between Government and Private Sector, CACIF, both sectors agree on National Security Strategy, but no actions are taken.
6. December 10th, CICIG urges national agreement to fight violence in Guatemala.
7. December 17th, Evidence of "silent" remilitarization in Guatemala is presented.
8. December 17th, Guatemala fears Mexico drug spill over.
For complete article go to: http://www.guatemala-times.com/news/guatemala/986-guatemalas-security-crisis-important-sequence-of-events.html
US failed war on drugs is killing Guatemala.
21 JULY 2009
Guatemala City - Today's headlines about another confrontation between Drug traffickers, DEA and Guatemalan security forces in Zacapa is just a repetition of the ongoing story of the ineffective and dangerous anti drug war implemented by the US in our territory and the region: the Merida Plan, Plan Mexico and Plan Colombia.
Calderon in Mexico has the resources (from the US) money, man power and the equipment to chase the narco gangs out of Mexico. Out to where, nobody asks, never mind, Calderon is considered to be a monumental success in the war on drugs. The same applies to Uribe in Colombia; he also got his resources from the US. (Remember both Colombia and Mexico has a lot of OIL.)
Where are the Narco Gangs re-surfacing? Everywhere where they can operate in a weak country that does not have the same resources as Mexico and Colombia, especially Guatemala, because we are right there across the border.
We are paying the ultimate price for the idiotic, myopic and ill conceived anti drug war strategies designed by the US and implemented in Colombia and Mexico ( We wonder is it about drugs or is it about OIL resources?).
Mexico gets billions to make war on narcos; Colombia gets billions to make war on narcos, result: massive narco migration. That is hailed as a success in the war on Drugs.
Well it is no success for Guatemala and other countries who suffer the consequences.
The US considers Mexico a priority: they are neighbours; it is a national security concern and they have a lot of OIL. Colombia is a priority because of the sheer volumes of revenues the narco trade generates that concerns the US, it is an economic concern, and they have a lot of OIL. The US has their own problem with drugs -users -crime and corruption, but the US has chosen to fight the war on drugs outside its territory instead of attacking the root of the problem: the users, the clients, the customers - they live in the US.
Guatemala is in the middle, Guatemala does not concern the US because we are unimportant to them, we have no OIL. No economic interest, no security interest, no political interest. So the geniuses of the US Drug war give resources to Colombia and Mexico, but very little to Guatemala. Result: Guatemala will soon have more narcos then chickens. But who cares. Geopolitically Guatemala is disposable.
We have seen a brutal increase of narco violence in the last year. It is not by chance. It is related to the migration of narco cartels to Guatemala.
We predicted last year that the consequences of this failed war on drugs would be: increase in violent crime related to narcos, serious rupture of the social structures in the country, infiltration of narcos into all power structures of the country, including judicial system, the military, the police, the political parties, the private sector and the banking system.
Guatemala already is the garbage dump for narcos because of the failed regional war on drugs strategy of the US. Guatemala is being sacrificed on the international chessboard of geopolitics and economic interests.
We have a better suggestion: take the money away from Mexico and Colombia, have the narcos return to their countries of origin. Make an air bridge and import the drugs legally into the US. Mexico prospers, Colombia prospers, the US takes care of their problem and we are out of this idiotic war on drugs. That is what we call a successful strategy to contain the problem.
Guatemala: Casualty of war in US war against Drugs and National Security
28 JULY 2009
bad news for Guatemala, no changes in US War on Drugs policies, US new Drug Zar more of the same, what a shame. At today's Press Conference in Mexico, the new White House Drug Zar Kerlikowske demonstrated that he only offers the same old - same old. No new ideas or initiatives. He calls the narco traffickers terrorists. "We don't negotiate with terrorists" he states today. He praises Calderon's efforts of conducting a frontal war and reiterates that Mexico will get the 1.4000 $ million Dollars stipulated for the Merida Plan in 2007. He also states that he opposes any legalization of drugs.
We in Guatemala have to assume that for Drug Zar Kerlikowske and President Obama, the emigration of narcos from Mexico into the neighboring countries, like Guatemala, is a success in the war on drugs, because that is all that Calderon has done.
Being highly successful in the US strategy on the war on drugs means: making the narcos change their addresses into another country, never mind where to, as long as it is not into the US.
We in Guatemala can only try to prepare ourselves for the increased migration of narco cartels, heavy weapons, crime, corruption, death and violence into our country, all courtesy of the US war on drugs. We will soon see more bloody consequences of the Merida Plan, financed so well for Mexico, financed so poorly for Guatemala.
I don't know, but it is starting to sound like a war on Guatemala, not a war on drugs. We are the ones that have become the target. Is that what we will become: another "casualty of war" in the name of US National Security?
President Obama is making a big mistake in "staying the course" on the war on drugs. It didn't work during the Clinton years, the Bush years; it is not going to work now.
For more background information on the Obama Administrations strategy on the war on drugs presented by Kerlikowske, we are publishing his testimony for the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on July 9, 2009.
To the American citizens we say: write to Congress, write to the Senate and write to President Obama, to anyone who can have a positive influence on changing the US war on Drugs, you are responsible for the actions of your government, you have elected them into office.
For the complete article go to:
¿Cambio? The Obama Administration in Latin America: A Disappointing Year in Retrospective. By COHA.
27 FEBRUARY 2010
.....................Drug War: U.S. Shirks, Mexico Bleeds
Drug-related violence in Mexico reached new peaks during 2009, with a staggering 7,800 homicides reported there, bringing to more than 16,000 the number of deaths that have been caused since President Felipe Calderon's anti-trafficking offensive began in 2007. However, one of the unforeseen consequences of Mexico's attempts to purge the major cartels and criminal gangs from its territory has been an increase in common crime across Central America. Over the last year, most notably in Honduras and Guatemala, domestically-organized crime syndicates serving as proxies for Mexican cartels have openly targeted their home governments and its security forces.
The Honduran head of anti-drug trafficking operations, General Julian Aristides Gonzalez, was gunned down in Tegucigalpa in December after seizing several large compounds thought to be owned by the Sinaloa cartel. During the past year, Honduras has also earned the dubious distinction of having one of the highest murder rates in the world, at 53 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. Owing to its proximity to Mexico and the attraction offered to gangs by its environment of impunity and corruption, Guatemala has not fared much better. Most troubling has been the persistent intimidation carried out by the Zetas, the erstwhile armed wing of the Gulf Cartel, which is now a criminal enterprise in its own right. In March, its members threatened President Colom's life after he denounced their infiltration of the Guatemalan government and security apparatus................
To read the complete article go to:
Picture: Ignacio de Wit