Guatemalan President Extends State of Emergency in Area Dominated by Drug Traffickers
By Dialogo January 21, 2011
Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom extended for thirty days the state of emergency decreed in the border department of Alta Verapaz (in northern Guatemala), where he launched a Christmas offensive against the Mexican drug-trafficking cartel Los Zetas.
“The state of emergency will be extended for thirty days, because we still have some steps to take (to recover the territory), which had become a true center of operations for drug trafficking,” the president affirmed to reporters.
He affirmed that in the thirty days that the state of emergency has been in effect in that region, on the border with Mexico, crime has dropped around 30%. In addition, more than eighty machine guns and assault rifles and forty-eight vehicles have been seized, and more than twenty people linked to drug trafficking have been arrested.
The state of emergency was initially decreed on 19 December for a period of one month, restricting some constitutional rights, such as freedom of movement and organization.
“We’re in the process of concluding that the state of emergency is starting to fulfill its objective: recovering governability in Alta Verapaz,” Interior Minister Carlos Menocal said for his part.
According to the minister, the security forces have also seized the equivalent of more than a million dollars from criminal groups.
According to the U.S. embassy in Guatemala, 250 tons of cocaine enter the United States annually by way of the so-called Central American Route, of which Guatemala is a part.