By Santiago Navarro F
April 27, 2017
Translated by El Enemigo Común
With the support of the Southern and Northern Commands of the U.S. Military, the Mexican and Guatemalan armed forces have begun the creation of a new elite group, a Task Force that will carry out joint operations on the border shared by Mexico and Guatemala. This elite group is added to the seven Task Forces created and formed by the government of the United States together with Central American governments.
According to General Juan Manuel Pérez Ramirez, Chief of the Guatemalan Defense Staff, this Task Force will carry out reconnaissance work, including aerial and ground patrols, sharing information and intelligence to combat transnational organized crime. In February of 2017, a special report by Avispa Media documented the Southern and Northern Commands’ visit to Mexican territory, as well as to Honduras and Guatemala, where participants requested anonymity.
The Guatemalan investigative journalist Luis Solano explained to Avispa Media that, “These inter-institutional Task Forces seek to position themselves at the main border points between Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, and Honduras. We are talking about around seven joint Task Forces formed by the United States. There is infrastructure and an institutional and financial scaffolding in this country, which is to say that it is behind these Task Forces.”
The National Defense and Navy secretariats, with financial support from both U.S. military commands, made it possible for the Conference on Central American Security (Centsec 2017) to take place for the first time in Mexico. There, the General affirmed that putting together the aforementioned elite group “has been in the works for more than five years.” The Peten region has been considered as the strategic theater of operations where the group will operate.
Activities related to the drug trade have not diminished even though every member of the Task Force has access to specialized technology such as heat sensors and night-vision goggles with a range of 2 kilometers used to carry out nighttime operations, as well as high-powered armament and tactical vehicles, according to Solano.
“The Task Forces, just like other programs implemented by the United States, have not achieved the objectives set out in the war on drugs. At the same time, the infrastructural megaprojects for the extraction of minerals, petroleum, water, and gas have exploded. This, together with the drug trade, is a factor in expelling people from their communities, where they feel forced to migrate. Guatemala continues to be a key passage for the drug trade on the way to Mexico and the United States, in different ways — by air, sea, and land, and every way possible to transport drugs. All these routes begin in Honduras and El Salvador, and end in Peten, Huehuetenango and San Marcos, which are the areas bordering Mexico. Here, there are an impressive number of crossing points, which have not been changed since the formation of the first Task Force, which supposedly maintains a presence in this area,” says Solano.
The conclusions of Centsec 2017 are centered on the importance of sharing information based on trust, as a necessity to respond effectively to the threats of transnational crime.
The central themes of these meetings have been migration, the drug trade, and organized crime. At the discussion table, a goal has been outlined to establish protocols for action and form strategic alliances between Mexico and Central American countries (Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Belize, El Salvador, and Panama). At no point did discussions touch on the sale of legal and illegal weapons, nor was counterinsurgency taken up in discussion. This information is discussed in the following report, Intervention by the United States in Mexico and Central America: The continuation of the war economy.