I recently assisted a US Army team in Guatemala’s northern San Marcos region, where criminal groups are known for recruiting young children to move illicit goods across the border into Mexico. During my trip, I met with our US Army partners, community leaders, and the Guatemalan Mountain Brigade to assess the situation on the ground and understand what drove communities into crime.
Most locals along the Guatemala-Mexico border are unfamiliar with, and even wary of, their local police and government. They are only familiar with the drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) who capitalize on the lack of government presence in these remote areas. In order to build trust and confidence with the people of the region, the Army Civil Affairs team and the Guatemalan military developed a vaccination campaign for their livestock—their livelihood.
Together with representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Anti-Narcotics Units, Guatemalan military, US military, and local veterinarians, I traveled to approximately 30 homes and vaccinated close to 820 chickens and 110 pigs.
By providing vaccinations, we were able to protect animals from common diseases which affect their agricultural production, further ensuring economic stability for these families. This, in turn, helped improve relationships between the local security forces and the local people in these ungoverned areas. Those relationships will prove critical in reducing criminal activity in the region.
To support this important initiative and get more info, check out my project page.
Until next time,
Project Manager, Latin America