World News

U.S. suspends some military aid to Guatemala over 'misuse' of vehicles

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Defense has scaled back the transfer of equipment and military training it provides to Guatemala to protest the “misuse” of vehicles it donated to the country, a U.S. embassy spokesman said on Thursday.

“Guatemala’s government is an ally and a partner in U.S. security efforts in the region, but the repeated misuse of military vehicles provided by the United States has prompted a review of support for security cooperation programs,” the spokesman said.

“For now the Defense Department has ceased the transfer of equipment and training for military forces,” he added.

The embassy did not say how Guatemala had misused the vehicles, but said it had been doing so since August 31 last year.

That is the date that Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales decided not to renew the mandate of the U.N.-backed anti-graft commission that helped to bring down his predecessor and also tried to have Morales impeached.

Morales sent gun-mounted military jeeps to patrol around the headquarters of the commission, known as the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), and diplomatic offices, including the U.S. embassy.

The vehicles were donated by the U.S. government in 2013 to be used in the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime and to patrol Guatemala’s borders.

Reporting by Sofia Menchu; writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Darren Schuettler