Rights groups fear militarization in Guatemala

AP News
Posted: Aug 31, 2012 8:50 PM
Rights groups fear militarization in Guatemala

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Human Rights activists in Guatemala say a joint anti-drug operation between U.S. Marines and the nation's army threatens to revive memories of rights abuses during Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war.

A team of 200 U.S. Marines began patrolling Guatemala's western coast this week as part of a joint agreement to catch drug shipments.

Rights advocate Helen Mack said Friday that rural communities in Guatemala are fearful of the military being used to combat drug traffickers because troops use the same techniques as they did in fighting rebels during the war. Mack is executive director of the Myrna Mack Foundation.

Kelsey Alford-Jones of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA notes that Guatemalan armed forces were backed by the U.S. during the civil war, and committed over 93 percent of the acts of violence.