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Guatemala boosts armed presence on border with Mexico

September 29, 2008 | 11:23 am


Guatemala is to send an additional 1,300 soldiers to its border with Mexico in an effort to slow the illicit flow of people, drugs and contraband across the frontier that it shares with its northern neighbor, according to the Associated Press this morning.

The Guatemalan authorities also plan to send more police and immigration personnel to administer the 935-kilometer-long (580-mile) border.

President Alvaro Colom of Guatemala made the announcement Saturday night during a session called "Government With the People," says the report.

Guatemala's border with Mexico is the principal point of passage through which migrants from that country make their way north to the United States.

Times staff writer Héctor Tobar visited the frontier this year and wrote:

Staff and equipment shortages are endemic to every law enforcement and military agency operating in the region, officials say. An overstretched army brigade of about 700 soldiers covers an area the size of Belgium. Guatemala's air force owns just two helicopters and no tactical radar capable of seeing low-flying aircraft.

To read the rest of the AP report on renewed efforts by the Guatemalan authorities to police its border with Mexico, click here.

Click here for more on Mexico, here for more on Guatemala and here for more about immigration.

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City

Photo: A Guatemalan soldier patrols a nature preserve in the Peten, Guatemala, a region said to be crisscrossed with drug traffickers' illegal landing strips. Of one criminal band in the area, an official says, "There's no way to oppose them. The only way you can come in here is with heavy weapons." Credit: Héctor Tobar / Los Angeles Times