Guatemalan President Urges Army to Neutralize Drug Traffickers

By Dialogo
January 18, 2012

On January 15, Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina urged his country’s Army to coordinate actions with the security forces in order to neutralize organized-crime and drug-trafficking groups.

Pérez, who took office on January 14, stated that the Army must “collaborate, coordinate, cooperate with the other institutions responsible for security in the country, in order to achieve the interdiction of external threats and contribute to neutralizing illegal armed groups.”

According to the Guatemalan president, this can be achieved through “the use of military power to recover and maintain control of our air, maritime, and land spaces, carrying out inter-institutional support operations.”

Pérez made his statements during an event where the Guatemalan Armed Forces saluted him at the Mariscal Zabala Military Brigade, located on the northern outskirts of the Guatemalan capital.

“This military ceremony represents our subordination to you as a consequence of the office given to you by the people of Guatemala,” Defense Minister Ulises Noé Anzueto Girón stated during the event, promising that the Army will put forth “maximum” effort, “no matter the sacrifices, for the good of the Guatemalan people.”

Pérez is a retired general trained in counter-insurgency, who has declared open war against organized crime and came to power using the rhetoric of an “iron fist.”

Official data indicates that on average, 16 murders take place daily in Guatemala, and the homicide rate is 38 per 100,000 inhabitants, among the highest in the world.