According to a U.S. State Department cable released by the international whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, state department officials are highly concerned by Mexico’s weak efforts to control its border with Guatemala.
The cable, released last week, describes drug and arms trafficking in the region as a common phenomenon, and asserts that both the Mexican and Guatemalan governments are incapable of addressing these security issues. Reporting on a conference in Mexico’s southern border city of Tapachula, the cable’s author claims that Mexican immigration officials “repeatedly confirmed that they do not have the manpower or resources to direct efforts effectively along the southern border.”
The cable details visits to three specific border crossing sites, in which analysts witnessed widespread negligence. In addition to failing to extensively check some vehicles and baggage items, officials at the sites turned a blind eye to the massive amounts of people crossing the border illegally within sight of their stations. At one station in Talisman, Chiapas, officials “witnessed almost as many individuals crossing the border illegally as legally.”
One of the main problems facing Mexico’s security efforts is the lack of personnel. While the U.S. has 30,000 border patrol agents stationed on the 1,926-mile border with Mexico, only 125 Mexican immigration officials monitor the 527-mile border with Guatemala, according to the cable. Additionally, the cable cites the lack of data-sharing between Guatemala and Mexico as a serious challenge to law enforcement efforts in those countries.
The release of the cable coincides with a recent plea by Guatemalan Interior Minister Carlos Menocal for the U.S. to fund more anti-narcotics programs in Central America, which he says are increasingly better at carving out new cross-border shipment routes.