War on Drugs: Shifting Focus to Guatemala and Honduras

Via McClatchy:

Washington has spent billions of dollars to help push drug cartels out of Colombia, and to confront them in Mexico. Now they've muscled their way into Central America, opening a new chapter in the drug war that almost certainly will exact further cost on U.S. taxpayers as American authorities confront drug gangs on a new frontier.

The Zetas are teaming up with Guatamela's Kaibiles to train the gang members, military style. And the U.S. military, including the Navy and Green Berets, is training the Guatamalan military. Background here. This is hardly new. The reports on the Kaibiles teaming up with the Zetas have been around since at least 2005. [More...]

By some accounts, the Kaibiles could be considered more dangerous than the Zetas, whose training in the Mexican armed forces was primarily for anti-drug operations. "Their preparation is different," Ibarrola said of the Kaibiles. "Their intentions are different: simply to kill."

Other analysts agreed. "The Kaibiles were always an elite force whose primary mission was to conduct massacres," said analyst Carmen Aida Ibarra of Guatemala's Fundacion Myrna Mack. "But this is the first clear confirmation that they are being co-opted by the drug traffickers."

More here, here and here

The U.S. embassy in Guatemala released a statement last year:

“The presence of U.S. officers forms part of a training commitment in response to an invitation from the Guatemalan Army, which training is carried out continuously, in association with military and police forces, by means of a diplomatic agreement” between the two nations.

“Guatemalan military and police personnel are trained by their U.S. counterparts in operations to control illicit trafficking by land, sea, and air,” the diplomatic mission added.

The cables released by Wikileaks are illuminating. Here's one from 2009:

What is happening there is typical of many rural areas of Guatemala. Sources tell us that Coban's police are corrupt and allied with traffickers, and sometimes even provide them escort. Some judges and prosecutors are
too frightened to do their jobs properly; others are in league with the traffickers.

The Economist blames U.S. drug policy. The fundamental problem:

As long as drugs that people want to consume are prohibited, and therefore provided by criminals, driving the trade out of one bloodstained area will only push it into some other godforsaken place. But unless and until drugs are legalised, that is the best Central America can hope to do.

Also see, Why Mexico's War on Drugs is Unwinnable.

And 2012 U.S. aid budget numbers (at page 125) for the drug war: Mexico, 248 million, Colombia, 160.5 million, Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) ($55 million),Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) ($30 million).

Add that to the global numbers which include things like International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) ($31.3 million) and Inter-regional Aviation Support ($60.7 million).

And compare to this: Demand Reduction ($12.8 million).

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  • Display: Sort:
    Idiotic (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Dadler on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 02:55:21 PM EST
    Emphasis on Id, as that seems to be what US Drug Policy is based on: the selfish ravings of our inner child.  Across the pond, actual adults seem to be making policy in this area, to a much better end.

    So the Guatemalan Death Sqauds (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by MKS on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 03:45:53 PM EST
    are now the muscle for drug traffickers......The Kaibiles are not to be trifled with....

    I guess any return trips to Coban should be put off.....

    All that money could create safe drinking water for the rural villages surrounding Coban in the Alta Verapaz.  Even provide electricity.  Build more schools.....And doctors, just few doctors would go a long way....Money goes a long way there...

    Total waste....

    Can't get enough! (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by lentinel on Sat Apr 23, 2011 at 09:12:46 AM EST
    War in Libya.
    War on drugs.
    War in Iraq.
    War in Pakistan.
    War in Afghanistan.


    what was that other one...?
    oh yeah..
    The War on Poverty.

    All going great.

    Nothing from nothing leaves nothing... (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by JamesTX on Sat Apr 23, 2011 at 10:41:00 AM EST
    That individual in the photo above looks perhaps to be a soldier in the war on poverty?

    The bottom has dropped out of the well (none / 0) (#5)
    by SeeEmDee on Mon Apr 25, 2011 at 10:16:57 AM EST
    and we still think we can spend billions on this farce?

    Tell that to all the 99ers out there; their kids are facing hunger and homelessness because of the Meltdown, and we still think we have money for this BS?

    If we have a revolution in this country because of the increasingly worsening conditions cause a complete and total disaffection of the populace, leading to a sense the government has no legitimacy because it seems only to serve the Uber-Rich, this damnable War on Drugs will serve as one of the catalysts.

    Legalize drugs already (none / 0) (#6)
    by diogenes on Mon Apr 25, 2011 at 08:53:24 PM EST
    No more narcodemocracies.  And I must declare a business interest...the increase in drug addiction will generate more business for treatment providers like me.

    If we should stop enforcing drug laws (none / 0) (#7)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 12:58:31 PM EST
    because the enforcement's not "winning," should we then stop enforcing all laws that the enforcement isn't "winning?"

    Because as far as I can tell no enforcement of any laws is "winning"...