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      Thursday
      Nov172011

      Right-Wing Militarist Elected in Guatemala, Asks U.S. Assistance in Escalating Drug War

      Calderon Loses in Michoacan, Lopez-Portillo To Campaign for Mexico’s President.

      Central America’s raging drug war is expected to escalate after the presidential election of Otto Perez-Molina, a right-wing general with past death-squad connections, who promises a “full-frontal assault” and is requesting direct US military assistance. Perez-Molina was dubbed “Guatemala’s Answer to Leftist Latin America” by Univision News on September 14, 2011.

      Meanwhile, the sister of Mexican president Felipe Calderon was defeated in Michoacan’s gubernatorial race, evidence that Calderon faces a serious challenge in next year’s Mexican presidential election. Strongly supported by drug war advocates in the United States, Calderon has plunged Mexico into a bloodbath over drugs, which has claimed 45,000 lives since his election in 2006. Also last week, the populist nationalist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was chosen as the presidential candidate of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) in the 2012 election. Lopez Obrador, a critic of NAFTA, lost the 2006 election by a fraction of one percent in a contest that was widely condemned as rigged.

      In addition to a viable electoral opposition to Calderon, there is a massive peace movement across Mexico calling for alternatives to the drug war.

      The long-standing drug war has claimed tens of thousands of lives since its inception in Colombia three decades ago. There has been little impact on drug consumption, however, since the military intervention results in a constant re-routing of the trade. In the early days, Colombian cartels utilized Miami for their shipments, but the routes shifted to Mexico when the Miami routes were hard hit. Mexico exploded in war and the drug traffic shifted again to Central America, particularly Honduras, where the homicide rate has jumped 108 percent to 77 per 100,000 inhabitants, among the highest rates in the world, according to Stratfor, a private security monitoring firm.

      According to Stratfor, “the Guatemalan choke point” might be controllable but only at the cost of significant funding and political capital.

      A joint military strategy with the new Guatemalan government would deepen US isolation in a region greatly burdened by a long history of US-backed repressive regimes. In 1999, President Bill Clinton officially apologized to Guatemala for a long history of torture and human rights abuses carried out with US support.

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