"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams

Saturday, September 1, 2012

US Marines are on the ground in Guatemala

US Marines are in Guatemala

The Endless Drug War  -  Now the US Marines have boots on the ground in Guatemala
  • The President of Guatemala says the Drug War has failed.
  • But the US is spending hundreds of millions in the area and is sending in troops.

GUATEMALA CITY -  The US Marines have now been put on the front lines of the insane, pointless and bottomless spending pit of the so-called War on Drugs.

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.
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 reports the Associated Press

"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.

Guatemalan president says drug war has failed

It was 50 years ago when the U.S. military last sent any significant aid and equipment into Guatemala, establishing a base to support counter-insurgency efforts during a guerrilla uprising. That movement led to 36 years of war that left 200,000 dead, mostly indigent Maya farmers. The U.S. pulled out in 1978.

Guatemalan authorities say they signed a treaty allowing the U.S. military to conduct the operations on July 16. Less than a month later an Air Force C-5 transport plane flew into Guatemala City from North Carolina loaded with the Marines and four UH-1 "Huey" helicopters.

After two weeks of setting up camp, establishing computer connections and training at the Guatemalan air base at Retalhuleu, the Marines ran through rehearsal exercises, Barnes said. Last week, their commander "gave us the thumbs up" to begin active operations, he said.

This week the Marines have been patrolling waterways and the coastline, looking for fast power boats and self-propelled "narco-submarines" used to smuggle drugs along Central America's Pacific Coast. U.S. officials say the "drug subs" can carry up to 11 tons of illegal cargo up to 5,000 miles.

Col. Erick Escobedo, spokesman for Guatemalan Military Forces and Defence Ministry, said that so far the Marines have brought about the seizure of one small-engine aircraft and a car, but made no arrests. He said he expected the Marines to in Guatemala for about two months.

Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Jeffrey Todd Scott said that although the agency has supported Operation Martillo, it has no agents working in Guatemala beyond its normal in-country presence.  But he does not bother to explain what the "normal" in-country presence is.

(CBS News)

US commits funds to Americas drug war 

US Military in Guatemala
Staff Sgt. Travis A. Jakovcic, a UH-1N Huey crew member with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 467 (HMLA-467) looks back at another aircrew during takeoff at the Guatemalan Air Force Base at Retalhuleu, Guatemala, Aug. 22, 2012. (AP/U.S. Marine Corps)

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