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Guatemala's New President Sets Army on Cartels

Retired general Otto Perez Molina was elected for promising a hardline approach.


President Molina's attitude is clear.
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By Valerie Tejeda


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Following his inauguration, new Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina has ordered the army to fight his country's drug cartels and "neutralize organized crime." Molina, a retired general, has promised to to rule with an “iron fist,” by taking tough action. Standing for the right wing Patriotic Party, he won the election in November with 54% of the vote. Guatemala is a substantial transit point for cocaine smuggling into Mexico. In a recent speech, the president told the military to "co-ordinate and co-operate with the other security forces to neutralize organized crime through ground, air and maritime control." Molina says he'll provide extra equipment including planes, speedboats and ground vehicles to help the cause. Guatemala's planned use of force follows the examples of some other Latin American countries. In November the Honduran congress voted to allow troops to take on police duties to confront its high murder rate, while the Mexican military under President Felipe Calderon has been fighting the drug war there for the last five years.

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