From the print edition
Beginning this week, 171 U.S. Marines will support Guatemalan security forces in an operation known as “Plan Martillo” (Operation Hammer) to fight drug trafficking.
Guatemalan Defense Minister Ulises Anzueto explained that the two-month operation aims to neutralize gangs that transport illicit drugs through Guatemala’s Pacific region.
“We will try to put pressure on drug traffickers and offset their advancement into Guatemalan territory; and if [drug traffickers] come, we will force them to an area where we can stop or disrupt their activities,” Anzueto told the Guatemalan daily Prensa Libre.
The actions cover six departments of southwestern Guatemala.
Operation Hammer is an initiative of the U.S. government to combat drug trafficking, together with Central America and the Caribbean. So far the plan only has been implemented in Honduras.
According to Anzueto, the joint operation involves about 2,000 Guatemalan soldiers.
Drug traffickers “have started using the southern coast, but especially the ocean. They go into the sea, and follow routes toward the border with Mexico,” Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina said on Monday.
However, the presence of a foreign military on Guatemalan territory, according to the country’s constitution, only can be approved by the Guatemalan legislature, which has not happened so far.