The militarization of the war on drugs is officially underway.
A team of 200 U.S. Marines began patrolling Guatemala's western coast this week in an unprecedented operation to beat drug traffickers in the Central America region, a U.S. military spokesman said Wednesday.
The Marines are deployed as part of Operation Martillo, a broader effort started last Jan. 15 to stop drug trafficking along the Central American coast. Focused exclusively on drug dealers in airplanes or boats, the U.S.-led operation involves troops or law enforcement agents from Belize, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama and Spain.
Wired has more here.
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Guatemala's new President, Otto Perez Molina, said today he will propose that Central America legalize drugs at an upcoming meeting of leaders in the region.
"I want to bring this discussion to the table," he said. "It wouldn't be a crime to transport, to move drugs. It would all have to be regulated."
Does he mean it? Or is he only attempting to start a dialogue? A former military general who ran on a law and order platform promising an "iron fist" policy against organized crime, he authorized the army to join the fight against the drug cartels just one day after his inauguration..
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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...]
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The Guatemalan military has seized the Alta Verapaz province claiming it is dominated by the Los Zetas drug cartel.
A state of siege allows the army to detain suspects without warrants, conduct warrantless searches, prohibit gun possession and public gatherings, and control the local news media. Guatemalan law allows the measure amid acts of terrorism, sedition or "rebellion," or when events "put the constitutional order or security of the state in danger."
The siege will last 30 days but can be extended. The Patriotic Party opposes the plan:
The state of siege...is meaningless "if we continue to have police corruption, a weak justice system and weak jails," added David Martinez Amador, an analyst and expert on criminal behavior.
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Reprehensible news article of the day:
From 1946 to 1948, American public health doctors deliberately infected nearly 700 Guatemalans — prison inmates, mental patients and soldiers — with venereal diseases in what was meant as an effort to test the effectiveness of penicillin.
American tax dollars, through the National Institutes of Health, even paid for syphilis-infected prostitutes to sleep with prisoners, since Guatemalan prisons allowed such visits. When the prostitutes did not succeed in infecting the men, some prisoners had the bacteria poured onto scrapes made on their penises, faces or arms, and in some cases it was injected by spinal puncture.
If the victims came down with the disease, they were treated with antibiotics.
The U.S. officially apologized today. The President of Guatamala appropriately expressed his outrage, calling the tests "crimes against humanity."
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