Newsbrief: Guatemala Seeks More Anti-Drug Money from United States 9/24/04

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Just days after once again being named to the State Department's list of major drug-producing or transiting countries, Guatemala called on the US to pay up if it wanted better results in the Central American nation long known as a major transshipment point for cocaine heading north from Colombia.

In remarks reported by the Chinese news agency Xinhua, Guatemalan President Oscar Berger said the US must provide more financial and material assistance if his country is to be more efficient in prosecuting drug traffickers. "Guatemala is and will continue being a good partner of the United States in the combat against drug-trafficking," Berger asserted. "Should the United States want more efficiency, then it ought to be a better partner. They have the resources and must strengthen the Guatemalan army with speedboats and helicopters," Berger said. "The only resources we count with in the combat against drug trafficking in Guatemala are ourselves," he added.

US military and police aid to Guatemala, almost all for anti-drug purposes, has averaged about $3 million per year since the turn of the century. The bulk of the aid comes from two programs, the State Department's International Narcotics Control program and the Defense Department's Counternarcotics program. Unfortunately, it appears that the Guatemalan military has taken a leading role not in suppressing the drug traffic but in running it. (For journalistic accounts of Guatemalan military involvement in the drug traffic, read Guatemalan journalist Jose Ruben Zamora at http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=18179 online and US journalist Frank Smyth at http://www.franksmyth.com online. At Smyth's web site click the link for Guatemala to find several relevant articles.)

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