The following is a translation of an op-ed that appeared in Prensa Libre, Guatemala's leading daily newspaper.
The United States, without a doubt, acts in a strange way that is often unexpected and difficult to understand, according to the logic used by other countries. This is the case with the demands of last week that it placed upon Guatemala so that the U.S. Congress can consider a request to re-establish its financing and aid to Guatemala’s military, which have been suspended for the last 44 years: ever since the now very distant 1977.
The principal characteristic that any demand should fulfill is that when the receiving party does not obey, even when it is not a threat, is that it will cause serious and perhaps unresolvable problems. But this has no chance of being realized if it refers to a unilateral decision, in this case on the part of the United States, which was made some five decades ago and that in practice had very little effect in reality. So, from the point of view of Guatemala, the answer is easy: leave things as they have been for so long.
Military relations between Guatemala and the United States were shut down as a consequence of human rights violations on the part of Guatemalan militaries. This was in the days of the Cold War, when the Iron Curtain had yet to fall, Central America was on the front line of battle between guerrilla groups and governments of the area, an while Cuban-Soviet aid was undeniable and effective. Back then, the decision may have been validly considered effective.
However, the Guatemalan Army obtained armaments and training from other countries that were closely-tied politically to the United States. The internal war continued, socialism fell, the Cold War ended, and the peace accords came 15 years ago and no one seemed to remember the absence of the United States military presence.
Several demands of the United States have already been accomplished and, as a related note, in recent weeks action has been taken to bring high-ranking officers of the military of those days to justice, with the answer that leaders of the guerrillas should also be tried for having given orders that brought about violence and assassinations. All of this comes with the additional factor that the Public Ministry of the Guatemala government and its current leadership has evident American support, and that it is impossible for anyone to justify the trial and punishment of just one of the two sides, which means that the demands should apply to both.
The demand by the United States is even less understandable when it does not refer to eliminating the embargo on Guatemala’s military, but to only considering that possiblity. Today’s relaity indicates the armies of the region should actively participate in the fight against narcotrafficking. And on that issue, it is in the interest of the United States that it should not become any stronger. Guatemala’s internal war was largely due the proximity of the United States; it is not logical that there should be a second confrontation for the same reason. In sum: it is now that the United States that has the greater interest in having a well-armed and effective Guatemalan military.