Obama Sends 200 Marines to Guatemala in Terrible Drug War Surge

John Glaser, August 30, 2012

Completely under the radar, Obama has sent 200 additional US Marines to Guatemala on another drug war adventure. Associated Press:

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.

“This is the first Marine deployment that directly supports countering transnational crime in this area, and it’s certainly the largest footprint we’ve had in that area in quite some time,” said Marine Staff Sgt. Earnest Barnes at the U.S. Southern Command in Miami.

Talk about policing the world. The plan, according to military officials, is to intercept drug traffickers. A similar US mission is being carried out by commando-style DEA agents and hundreds of US soldiers in neighboring Honduras. In that case, it has brought about several incidents of killings of Hondurans by American forces and a massive uptick in support and training for a corrupt league of Honduran security forces with a long list of human rights abuses.

Washington’s prohibitionist policies in Central America have caused drug profits to skyrocket and its support for undemocratic police states in Latin America has pushed cartels to build well-armed militias that give state armies a run for their money.

The US has an ugly, bloody history in the region. In Guatemala, the Eisenhower administration imposed a military coup and then sent in the US military while fueling a violent civil war that left more than 200,000 people dead. The height of the bloodshed occurred under 1980s US ally and beneficiary Ríos Montt, during which the number of killings and disappearances reached more than 3,000 per month. Montt’s forces, with the help of his chief of staff Fuentes (recently brought to court for war crimes), slit the throats of women and children, beat innocent civilians and doused them in gasoline to be burned alive, tortured, and mutilated thousands of innocent indigenous peasants. The UN commission investigating the atrocities concluded it constituted acts of genocide. No inquiry into the culpability of US officials has been initiated.

Guatemala currently receives approximately $1oo million in aid annually from the U.S.despite a record of corruption and ties to the drug gangs. The former president, Alfonso Portillo, is in prison on charges of massive corruption. Scores of police chiefs, senior military commanders, and defense ministers have been indicted throughout an attempt to crack down on security forces with drug-trafficking ties.

The Kaibiles, the ruthless U.S.-trained Guatemalan state militia infamous for their role in killing civilians during Guatemala’s civil war, are being recruited in large numbers to violent Mexican drug gangs. Mexico’s Zetas drug cartel is paying large sums to a multitude of Kaibiles forces to pass on the training they received from the United States military.

This is the reality of the US drug war in Central America. And the Obama administration has just exacerbated the chaos by marching in 200 US Marines to Guatemala. Bravo.




13 Responses to “Obama Sends 200 Marines to Guatemala in Terrible Drug War Surge”

  1. How true is this? Any facts site?

  2. [...] Obama Sends 200 Marines to Guatemala in Terrible Drug War Surge (antiwar.com) [...]

  3. This is the reality of the US drug war in Central America. And the Obama administration has just exacerbated the chaos by marching in 200 US Marines to Guatemala. Bravo.

  4. Einstein’s quip augmentation: As the Monty Phyton would say, there are TWO things that are infinite: the universe and human stupidity…and the futility of the War on Drugs. Three, there are THREE things that are infinite: the universe, human stupidity and the futility of the War on Drugs…and the irrationality of Prohibition. Four, there are FOUR… bugger! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uprjmoSMJ-o

    It goes to show the similarity between the War on Drugs and the Spanish Inquisition is far from coincidental. Both are tragic, stupid and futile, yet laughable.

    Gart Valenc
    Twitter: @gartvalenc

  5. I could not agree more, John. The whole point of the US policy on drugs is to use Prohibition & the War on Drugs policies to try to insulate itself from the “highest costs” by imposing them on drug producing and distributing countries. Sadly, it shouldn't surprise anybody, for it is not a recent policy, let alone, an unusual one: every US president has done it. Why should one expect Obama to be the exception — how ironic that he even received the Nobel Prize for Peace, for goodness sake, for PEACE. Honestly, he should apologise to the world and return it, immediately!

    And there is where the tragedy for drug producing and transit countries, especially Latin American ones, lies: when it comes to foreign policy, it is irrelevant who is elected US president. Paraphrasing Carlos Fuentes, a prominent Mexican writer, the only way the US can sustain its democratic façade internally is by behaving undemocratically externally.

    The policy of the US, the largest drug consumer in the world and the most belligerent war on drugs warrior, has always been to force others to deal with the mess it has created in the first place. The fact is that the US likes "exporting" its internal conflicts and “demanding” other countries to fight its fights. It is also the logic of its foreign policy: wage war on foreign lands — be it in the form of low intensity wars like the War on Drugs, or high intensity ones, like the War on Terror (see the pattern?) — in order to isolate the US from the fallout from pursing its economic, political and strategic interests whatever the cost…for others.

    It explains why the country that swaggers about lecturing everybody about the rule of law, democracy and human rights, is the same country that ignores international law, practices extraordinary rendition, tortures, wages illegal wars, finances mercenaries, uses unmanned drones to carry out extra-judicial killings, allows military commission and indefinite detentions, denies due process, and so and so forth.

    As unfortunate as it is for Latin America, there is nothing paradoxical, unusual or unexpected in the US behaviour: it is what dominant powers are meant to do. The Romans did it, and the British did it, too.

    Gart Valenc
    Tweeter: @gartvalenc

  6. 'dominant powers' is sure a nice euphemism for rome, england & america, but even Justin calls it Imperialism now. These are not things that happen just because of incredible power, but because they consciously serve economic interests.

  7. The "War on Drugs" , like the Red Scare and Cold War of the past, is one vehicle to build up the police state. It's the excuse for political repression, profit for the war/police industry, and a great way to plant evidence on political opponents.

  8. "I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism" – Marine General Smedley Butler.

  9. Great article

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  13. This is the most shocking thing i've red, marines in my country? Guatemala's National Army is fully capable of beat the drug problem in the territory, but the U.S. as always invading other countries for "National Interests", Shame on you. – Reminder of August 2, 1954-