U.S. sends 200 Marines to Guatemala to join anti-drug effort.

Cpl. Bradley Brouwer, assigned to the Marine detachment aboard High…

U.S. Marines train Guatemalan paratroopers.
Cpl. Bradley Brouwer, assigned to the Marine detachment aboard High Speed Vessel (HSV 2) Swift, participates in a Marine Corps martial arts session with Guatemalan paratroopers. The exercise was part of Southern Partnership Station, an annual deployment of U.S. ships to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility in the Caribbean, Central and South America. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Matthew Comer/Released)

The Marines are deployed as part of Operation Martillo, a broader effort started last Jan. 15 to stop drug trafficking along the Central American coast. Focused exclusively on drug dealers in airplanes or boats, the U.S.-led operation involves troops or law enforcement agents from Belize, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama and Spain.

“This is the first Marine deployment that directly supports countering transnational crime in this area, and it’s certainly the largest footprint we’ve had in that area in quite some time,” said Marine Staff Sgt. Earnest Barnes at the U.S. Southern Command in Miami.

It was 50 years ago when the U.S. military last sent any significant aid and equipment into Guatemala, establishing a base to support counter-insurgency efforts during a guerrilla uprising. That movement led to 36 years of war that left 200,000 dead, mostly indigent Maya farmers. The U.S. pulled out in 1978.

Source: The Associated Press

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