Guatemala to Extend State of Siege

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Guatemala has decided to prolong the state of siege in the northern province of Peten by 30 days. The measure was imposed following a massacre by the Zetas drug gang in May.

The government said that extending the siege will provide “crucial support to the work of security forces.” The declaration will now remain in force until July 16.

The siege is an emergency measure which allows the government to suspend certain constitutional rights in the affected area. It gives the army the power to dissolve public demonstrations, conduct raids and detain suspects without a warrant.

Authorities said the measures in Peten had improved security for residents and for tourists.

The siege was declared following the massacre of 27 farm laborers on May 15 in a rural area of the province, which borders Mexico to the north. The killing has been attributed to Mexican drug gang the Zetas.

This is not the first state of siege imposed under Colom’s watch. In December 2010 the province of Alta Verapaz was placed under the measure due to increased violence from criminal gangs, including the Zetas.

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