Guatemala to Open Bases on Border with Mexico

By Dialogo
September 06, 2012

Guatemalan President Otto Pérez announced the opening of three military bases on September 3, two near the border with Mexico and one in the Caribbean, as part of its strategy to combat organized crime, especially drug trafficking.

In the military exhibition there will be National Civil Police, Immigration, and Tax Authority agents, whose goal is to counter the actions of drug trafficking, smuggling and human trafficking, Pérez explained to the local press.

The bases will be installed in the departments of San Marcos (west) and Petén (northern), both of which border Mexico, and Izabal (northeast), in the Caribbean, he specified.

Pérez, a retired general who fought against the guerrillas during the Guatemalan Civil War (1960-1996), commented that the creation of these new bases will be made possible thanks to the increase in the Army’s budget, of about 50 million dollars.

The budget increase also includes the purchase of Brazilian-manufactured radar and aircraft, to strengthen the work of the intelligence command and information technology, Pérez pointed out.

“We have many requests to install detachments (military) to assist in the issues of security. In Puerto Barrios (Izabal), for example, they asked for more presence to restore order on the spot,” he argued.

For two weeks, about 200 U.S. Marines will support security forces in Guatemala, in an unprecedented deployment to combat drug trafficking in the Pacific waters.

Guatemala has become one of the most violent countries on the continent, with an average of 16 deaths a day, especially by the incursion of drug cartels, including the Mexican Zetas.