Guatemala declares emergency as Zetas threaten state

Late last month, the Guatemalan government declared a state of siege in the northern department of Alta Verapaz near the jungle border with Mexico, and sent hundreds of troops to the area in response to the supposed presence there of Los Zetas, the ultra-violent Mexican narco gang. President Álvaro Colom announced that the emergency rule in Alta Verapaz will last 30 days, allowing the military to detain suspects without a warrant. “It is to bring peace to the people and recover their confidence in the government,” Colom said. (Latin America News Dispatch, Dec. 20)

Los Zetas responded to the decree with a communique that was hand-delivered to reporters in the Alta Verapaz capital of Cobán, on Dec. 29. The statement claimed that Colom failed to comply with an agreement that he entered into with the Zetas prior to the close of elections in 2007, under which they paid him $11.5 million in return for a promise of a free hand in Guatemala under his rule. The communique warned that a “war will begin in this country,” promising attacks on shopping centers, schools and other targets. (Grupo Savant, Dec. 30)

See our last posts on Guatemala, Central America, and Mexico’s narco wars

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