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September 29, 2011: The new U.S. ambassador to Guatemala, Arnold
Chacon, announced early this week before a group of National Army officials his
commitment to fighting narco-trafficking and organized crime in the region, offering technical and economic assistance to Guatemala.
June 23, 2011:Guatemala City hosts SICA/Donor Conference to develop a Central America Citizen Security Strategy.
June 20, 2011: Secretary of State Clinton will join regional security conference. Ten Latin American representatives as well as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet next week at the first International Support Conference on Security Strategy in Central America. The meeting was convened by the Secretariat of Central American Integration (Sica), and will also include representatives from the Organization of American States, the World Bank, the Interamerican Development Bank, and the Central American Bank of Economic Integration. [Siglo XXI]
June 17, 2011: Another Mayoral Candidate Murdered. Candidate for San Jose Pinula's Mayor position, Enrique Ardon, of the CREO party (Compromise, Renewal and Order Party), was shot to death. He is the second candidate to have been killed in the last five days. The first was Augusto Enrique Ovalle Barrera, of the PU (Unionist Party). The CREO party denounced the attacks claiming other parties were threatened by their growth. [Siglo XXI] For more information on upcoming elections in Guatemala, see the Crisis Group International's recent report, "Guatemala's Elections: Clean Polls, Dirty Politics."
June 15, 2011: State of Siege extended in Petén. President Colom announced that he would extend the state of siege in the Petén for an additional 30 days in order to strengthen the institution in the department and provide support to the security forces in the region. The area has been under a state of siege since May 16 following the massacre of 27 farm workers by members of the Mexican Zeta drug cartel. [Siglo XXI]
June 9, 2011: Deserter of military and police is alleged murderer of assistant prosecutor
Victor Omar Guillermo, who deserted from the army in 1996 and in 2009 began working for the police force, has been captured in conjunction with the murder of the assistant prosecutor last week. An analyst from the Office of Monitoring and Public Safety office has said that there is no doubt that state institutions, particularly those in charge of security and justice, have been infiltrated by organized crime. [El Periodico]
May 19, 2011: Ex-kaibil blamed for directing massacre. According to the Public Prosecutor's Office, ex-kaibil Hugo Gómez Vásquez directed and participated in the massacre at Los Cocos, Peten, as well as ordering the attack on police and military at San Benito. Gómez is considered to be a high-ranking member of the Zetas. [Siglo XXI]
May 15, 2011: 27 die in drug-related massacre in Guatemala. In Guatemala's worst drug-related violence in modern times, assailants
stormed a remote jungle ranch and killed 27 people, beheading 25 of
them, an army spokesman said Sunday. A national civil police spokesman in nearby Santa Elena, Moises Ical,
said the killings were related to drug trafficking, and possibly carried
out by Los Zetas, a gang comprising former enforcers for Mexico's Gulf
Cartel. Los Zetas are known to operate freely in much of the Peten
region, often in large convoys equipped with heavy weaponry. [Miami Herald]
April 26, 2011: Guatemala captures drug fugitive sought by US. Guatemalan police on Tuesday arrested a 71-year-old suspected drug trafficker that the United States has sought for alleged ties to Mexico's powerful Sinaloa cartel. [Reuters/NYT]
February 28, 2011: More than 400 children murdered in 2010. 1,635 children and adolescents died in 2010. Of these, 459 were killed by knife or fire arm, according to a report presented by ODHAG. Limited access to education or work opportunities leads minors to become involved in gangs. [La Hora]
February 18, 2011: State of siege suspended in Alta Verapaz
The state of siege was suspended on Feb. 18, 2010, though the President said he would not withdraw the security forces stationed there. Minister of the Interior Carlos Menocal stated that violent crime was reduced by 50% and attacks on property were also vastly reduced. Authorities arrested dozens of people during the two month period and confiscated 149 weapons. The state of siege, declared on Dec. 19, 2010, and extended for another 30 days on Jan. 19, limits constitutional rights such as the right to assembly, and the police and military may detain anyone without arrest warrants.
Community leaders, however, have spoken out against the militarization of the department and denounced violations committed during the state of siege. In an urgent communiqué at the end of January, indigenous communities near Laguna Lachúa denounced the rape of multiple women by state forces, and, in the community of Cejó Che', the destruction of 300 acres of cardamom, 50 acres of beans, and 50 acres of corn. Other communities have denounced the progression of megaprojects that had been halted due to strong local opposition.
The pretext for the declaration is the pervasive drug-trafficking activity in the department of Alta Verapaz, particularly by the Zetas, and the need to ensure citizen security. Yet - other than the confiscation of some weapons and vehicles, and the arrest of 18 "alleged Zetas" - it is the citizenry, not organized crime, that is suffering. Many see the state of siege as a way to clamp down on community leaders and organizations that have been actively demanding respect for land rights and indigenous rights. The state of siege is also helping pave the way for the installation of two new military bases in this department.
Read more: Upside Down World, Al Jazeera, Prensa Libre
February 17, 2011: Petén Governor asks for implementation of a State of Emergency. Rudel Alvarez, governor of Petén, requested that the President impose a State of Emergency to combat drug trafficking and organized crime. Alvarez said he made the request on behalf of the department’s mayors who would like the State to take back control over protected areas. The action would limit freedom of movement, assembly, protest, speech, and the right to bear arms. This comes at the end of the State of Siege (more extreme in its restrictions than a State of Emergency) in Alta Verapaz. This was imposed from Dec. 18, 2010 until Feb. 18, 2011, also to combat drug trafficking. [elPeriodico]
January 24, 2011: Investigation reveals arms trafficking network operating between Colorado and Guatemala. A band of arms traffickers operates from Denver, Colorado to send firearms to Guatemala, according to recent reports. The weapons were transported by Transportes Zuleta. Authorities in Colorado say the case has been archived as investigations continue. [El Periodico]
January 22, 2011: Authorities reveal plan to open a police headquarters in Alta Verapaz. Carlos Menocal, Interior Minister, and U.S. Ambassador Stephen McFarland, announced this Sunday their plans to install a “model police station” in Coban, Alta Verapaz. This, they say, will allow police to combat organized crime. McFarland noted that last year the U.S. gave $120 million in humanitarian aid and $25 million for security support. [Prensa Libre]
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