Rumsfeld: Guatemala Part of Central American 'Magic Moment'
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
GUATEMALA CITY, March 24, 2005 "This is a magic moment" for Central America, with countries working together to support democracy and economic opportunity across the region, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said at a news conference here today.
Rumsfeld arrived in Guatemala late March 23 for talks with Guatemalan leaders. He met with President Oscar Jose Rafael Berger Perdomo and Minister of Defense Carlo Humberto Aldana Villanueva.
Rumsfeld said "growing cooperation will contribute" to increased security across the region as governments pour resources into fighting drug traffickers and gangs that commit violence against society. The secretary said the United States is releasing $3.2 million in aid earmarked for the Guatemalan military.
Berger noted his commitment to downsize and modernize his armed forces while renewing his country's commitment to battle drug traffickers.
U.S. officials estimate that 80 percent of cocaine headed for the U.S. market comes from land, sea or air routes through Guatemala, which borders southern Mexico.