‘Guatemala is an embryonic Colombian situation’

Previous posts about US policy towards Colombia illustrate how the drug war has served as a pretext for supporting atrocities and a corrupt government in order to secure strong regional influence and expansions of the empire. The US justifies supporting, training, and equipping basically terrorist narco-paramilitaties by invoking the fight against narco-traffickers and leftist guerrilla groups, all while fostering corruption in an increasingly obedient and malfeasant government and military. Colombia, for at least two decades, has occupied a unique position in Latin America as America’s prime ally in, so says the state, counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism.

Parallels can be drawn between US policy towards Colombia and US policy towards Guatemala. As I’ve also written about, US supporting, training, and equipping the Guatemalan military Kaibiles continues despite the militia’s ties to atrocities and drug cartels.

Turns out, I’m not the first to conceive these parallels. According to State Department diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, Guatemalan Interior Minister Carlos Vielmann and Presidential Secretary Alfredo Vila made the comparison to US officials so as to garner more economic and military aid. They “emphasize[d] that Guatemala is an embryonic Colombian situation” and so “requires greater assistance.”

On January 10, they previewed for the Country Team the presentation they intend to make for greater assistance and cooperation.  In particular, Vielmann said the GOG [Government of Guatemala] was looking for assistance in setting up vetted units and intelligence-sharing arrangements, as well as  equipment ranging from helicopters to bullet-proof vests.  As the GOG stepped up its engagement with narco-traffickers, Vielmann said the GOG would also be looking for U.S. assistance in protecting GOG leaders from reprisals.

While   reviewing their list of organized crime families in Guatemala, Vila and Vielmann said they were wrapping up an internal investigation of narco-trafficking allegations against Jaime Martinez-Lohayza, the congressional deputy who for the past year has headed their party (GANA) bloc in Congress.  They said they intended to make the case to President Berger that, at a minimum, Martinez-Lohayza needed to be removed from his position as leader of the GANA bloc in Congress.  Their implication was that they were seeking to do so while containing the political damage to Berger and GANA.

GOG counter-narcotics efforts continue to be thwarted by a combination of corruption, incompetence and intimidation at the working level among police, prosecutors and judges (ref A).  The senior leadership recognizes narco-trafficking’s threat and is committed to combating it. To the extent that the GOG can show progress in overcoming the corruption, incompetence and intimidation that have hampered law enforcement, the Embassy recommends favorable consideration of their request for assistance in setting up vetted units and intelligence-sharing arrangements, as well as equipment ranging from helicopters to bullet-proof vests.