However, the increased militarization of public institutions, not just those involved in security, is a serious threat to democracy in Guatemala. Kelsey Alford-Jones lays out the concerns behind Otto Perez Molina's militarization of Guatemala in Remilitarization gives rise to new tensions and violence in Guatemala.
Pérez Molina has made no secret of his intention to deploy the armed forces in ever-greater numbers and ever-expanding roles - the military now overwhelmingly dominates citizen security initiatives. Whether walking down Guatemala City’s central avenue, the “Sexta,” or driving on any major highway, Guatemalans are once again likely to encounter soldiers patrolling with semi-automatic rifles or checking papers at military roadblocks.
The government has opened at least five new military bases and outposts since the beginning of 2012, and has sent soldiers to fight drug cartels, to protect historic sites and nature reserves, and to back up the police during evictions and protests. Soldiers have also been deployed en masse to reduce crime in Guatemala City´s poorest neighborhoods.
Seeing soldiers on the streets may not new in Guatemala, but under Pérez Molina, it has become symbolic of his administration’s approach to governance; and for the first time in over 15 years, current and former military personnel permeate the leadership of civilian institutions and dictate the administration’s approach to governance.
This swift remilitarization is deeply controversial, and the reasons behind it are much more complex than first meet the eye.In fact, some argue that the motivation for militarization has little to do with providing security for Guatemalan citizens – instead, it is about protecting the status quo, ensuring impunity for the armed forces and defending multinational economic investments.The US government has been eager to offer support to the Guatemalan military, despite the problematic implications.It's a good piece and you should read it in its entirety. I'm not sure that the US has been "eager" but that's better than much other critical commentary that would say the US was behind the effort. OPM's reliance on the military is, obviously, because that is who he knows and who he trusts. However, it's also the consequence of the fact that I don't think that he has a lot of elite-level support.
I've argued for increasing the number of police and strengthening public security institutions while at the same time making greater investments in education and health. As the benefits from these investments will take time to come to fruition, I've also been more open to using the military in short-term support roles, primarily along the country's northern and southern borders, than others. But that's not what OPM stands for and not who Guatemalans voted into office in 2011.