Friday, September 7, 2012

Critics Slam Obama Deployment of U.S. Troops to Guatemala for Drug War

The New American
September 7, 2012

Critics from across the political spectrum are outraged after the Obama administrationannounced that it was unconstitutionally sending 200 U.S. Marines to Guatemala under the guise of fighting the drug war. According to officials, the American troops were deployed as part of “Operation Martillo,” a multi-national squad of soldiers and law-enforcement personnel supposedly aimed at countering narcotics trafficking throughout Central America. 

The new President of Guatemala, Otto Pérez Molina — a widely respected tough-on-crime former military general who opposed communism — had said earlier this year that legalizing drugs would be a better approach. However, the Obama administrationswiftly deployed high-level functionaries to coerce the leader into backing down. Apparently the mission was a success.

In mid-July, the Guatemalan government signed what news reports and officials described as a “treaty” with the Obama administration — the U.S. Senate, however, never ratified any such agreement as required under the Constitution. Within a month of the controversial deal, U.S. Marines, equipment, and military helicopters began arriving in Guatemala.  

"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," Marine Staff Sgt. Earnest Barnes from the U.S. Southern Command told the Associated Press. However, the scheme, which began in January, is much broader than just the 200 U.S. Marines. The Coast Guard and assorted alphabet soup U.S. federal bureaucracies are involved as well.

The operation also includes forces from Belize, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, and Spain, according to news reports. On top of that, the U.S. government has offered over $100 million to governments in the region under the guise of the “Central American Regional Security Initiative” for 2012.  

U.S. officials claimed that the American troops would be helping to find drug-laden planes and boats along Guatemalan coastlines. However, domestic forces will supposedly be doing the fighting, according to Obama administration spokesmen, who alleged that U.S. forces would only be allowed to defend themselves if fired upon. 

"Marines in Guatemala are in a supporting role and we are providing aerial, communications and logistical support to a regional partner who is currently facing strong challenges with illicit trafficking along its coasts,” claimed Department of Defense spokesman Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, adding that the deployment was “temporary in nature” and focused on supporting “regional authorities” in their own war. “This is not a new role nor the first time the U.S. military supports a partner in this capacity."

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