A senior member of the agency tasked with protecting Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom was shot and killed yesterday in a coordinated attack involving multiple assailants in Guatemala City. The victim, Rubén Sagastume Pozuelos, was the agent in charge of protecting President Colom’s children.
The attack is the latest in a series of incidents involving the Secretariat for Administration and Security (SAAS). In September, the director of SAAS was detained on espionage charges following the discovery of covert audio and video recording equipment in the president’s offices and residence. It also follows a series of death threats against the president received by the agency, which were issued by the Mexico-based Golfo drug cartel.
Colom, who himself was accused of coordinating the assassination of a political opponent earlier this year, has significantly increased the size of the Guatemalan National Police force in an effort to curb drug trafficking and reduce the country’s extremely high rate of homicide. Police estimate that around 1 million illegal firearms are in Guatemala and Guatemala is considered one of Latin America’s most violent countries with an average of 17 murders daily and a large presence of street gangs and drug traffickers.