Should we hire Guatemalans to guard the U.S. Capitol?

My friends on Facebook are delirious with joy that Washington, D.C. is being closed off to ordinary people and that more 26,000 U.S. military troops are guarding the Capitol against potential domestic enemies. I’m not sure why the 3,800 D.C. police officers, 2,300 Capitol police officers. U.S. Secret Service agents, FBI agents, U.S. Park Police, et al. cannot protect the U.S. government from its subjects. But I wonder if it could be done at a lower cost.

“Migrant Caravan, Now in Guatemala, Tests Regional Resolve to Control Migration” (New York Times):

As many as 7,000 migrants from Central America are hoping to reach the United States to escape poverty intensified by hurricanes and the pandemic. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has pledged to ease asylum rules.

Wielding truncheons and firing tear gas, Guatemalan security forces on Sunday stepped up their efforts to stop a caravan of thousands of Central American migrants who have surged in from Honduras in recent days in hopes of reaching the United States.

Shortly after dawn on Sunday, migrants tried to force their way through the phalanx but were beaten back by security forces with truncheons, shields and clouds of tear gas, according to the local news media and a video circulated by the Guatemalan government.

“Fortunately, our security forces managed to contain this pitched battle,” said Guillermo Díaz, director general of the Guatemalan Migration Institute. “We managed to calm everything in a very complicated situation.” He added, “We are talking about national security here.”

Instead of mobilizing costly U.S. military forces, why not pay the Guatemalans to keep us safe from ourselves?

Separately, I had always wondered why we needed to spend nearly $1 trillion per year on a military that served no apparent purpose. The Soviet Union was mostly an enemy in our own minds. Canada and Mexico still haven’t invaded. Our military didn’t do anything to stop up to 29 million undocumented migrants from crossing the border and settling down in recent years. Maybe the real purpose of the U.S. military is simply domestic policing?

Tikal, Guatemala, from 2000 (captured with the Mamiya 7 medium format camera):

And the flower market in Chichicastenango

Before coronapanic, friends regularly traveled to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Antigua, Guatemala for Spanish lessons and relaxation. Why not travel there to find folks with a proven track at controlling a determined crowd without lethal violence?

Update from Facebook:

23 thoughts on “Should we hire Guatemalans to guard the U.S. Capitol?

    • Everything is more expensive in Switzerland. See recent Swiss franks exchange rate manipulation accusations. Highly unlikely that the Swiss guard is cost effective at the present.

  1. Comment moderation folks beware this comment is slightly off topic! Phil I am a little disappointed with the second picture, the flower market. Not sure what the lighting conditions were but I think you messed up the focus. Probably should have closed down the lens a little to increase the depth of field. I don’t know what the conditions were at the time so maybe you were stuck! The colors and composition are nice however.

    • Toucan Sam: It was pretty dark and I was using low-ISO film, so the lens had to be open pretty wide to stop camera shake (and I was a newbie with that camera so maybe I did mess it up! Though it seems as though the foreground is in focus.) For readers who aren’t Pentax 6×7 heroes… depth of field with medium format cameras is limited, unless you’re using a tripod. The depth of field is related to the absolute size of the aperture opening, which is larger for a given perspective with a bigger frame because the focal length of the lens is longer. The smartphone camera is at the opposite end of this spectrum, with great depth of field and everything in focus from foreground to background unless you’re using the computer-generated blur for portrait mode.

    • @Toucan Sam, @Philg: Yeah! That’s what I was going to say…too. Lol. Seriously, thanks for the explanation because I noticed the sharpness falloff also, and then realized…oh, he took these with a *camera* camera. It looks like those Mamiya 7s hold their value. $3,200+ used, even today. How much were they new? I take it people still use them because of the great big negatives?

    • Hi Sue!

      I was reading Phillip’s review of the mamiya 7II and I disagree. Phil claims “The Mamiya 7 is a lightweight rangefinder 6×7-format camera with interchangeable lenses. It is probably the only 6×7 camera with interchangeable lenses that is practical for travel or street photography.”. I disagree I used to travel with a Pentax 67 and found it to be a great platform. First of all it was an SLR camera! Second it had great interchangeable lenses! probably better than the mamiya. It was a little larger but I thought it was easier to use. I am wondering if Phil ever tried the pentax 67?

    • Sue… you know what Obama always says. If you like your interchangeable lenses you can keep your interchangeable lenses!

  2. Canada can send 10,000 peacekeepers. We will promise not to burn the White House down like we did in the War of 1812.

    Your Friendly Neighbours up North

    • Note to readers! Pavel is a foreigner who has admitted to stealing our election! The menace from the north has installed a woman from Toronto named Kamala Harris to be our leader. Sadly this is not considered a crime. We all bow our heads in submission to the North!

    • Speaking of off topic….There was an ATC threat announcing that representatives from Iran wanted to fly a plane into the Capitol on Jan 6 2021, the day of our riots and the certification of our election..Although they Literally had the opportunity to destroy both our state representatives, our people, as well as our figurative ideas of a nation, I speculate they somehow must have thought that they would do less damage to their cause by doing nothing and let our political turmoil implode. They see no need to bomb us as we’re “bombing” ourselves. Therefore, working for them. Could you image the unity another 9/11 would cause amongst the “we the people of the United States of America’s?” Attacking the US would be completely off topic to their cause of US destruction. They know a terrorist attack would have blinded us of race, covid, and political beliefs. With all going on..How do we unite? Do we need more guards or someone to hit us in the head?

  3. How does this square with the Posse Comitatus Act (, which wisely limits the use of the military within the domestic US? Even the Romans were smart enough to forbid regular troops crossing the Rubicon – and when they finally did, that was the end of the Republic and the start of an endless ’emergency’ dictatorship.

    • The Posse Comitatus Act applies only to _federal_ military personnel. It doesn’t apply to the National Guard because they’re (theoretically) under the command of the state governors. Note that the military has been largely ignoring that law for decades using one legal fig leaf or another.

  4. Will your friends be delirious with joy after the inauguration of soon-to-be president Harris has a much smaller crowd than the much mocked inauguration of the Orange Father in Washington? Unless the crowd of security personnel is so massive it will make the inauguration well attended…

    • Federico: They’re also PhDs in Shutdown Karenhood so they will be delighted that fewer people were exposed to coronavirus and that their instructions to “stay healthy” were heeded.

    • With friends like those I do not understand why you bother with this blog, or with having comments! You are wasting time here, you should be on FB with them!

  5. “Maybe the real purpose of the U.S. military is simply domestic policing?”

    The US military, and its contractor network, is largely a huge (worldwide) jobs program. One of the large defense contractors put bread on the table for four generations of my family.

  6. > Our military didn’t do anything to stop up to 29 million undocumented migrants from crossing the border and settling down in recent years.

    According to your link, the number of undocumented has peaked around 2008. The US military was definitely busy with other stuff before that.

    • The US military is more interested in illegally enforcing drug laws than they are in illegally enforcing immigration laws. There’s more money in it, I suspect.

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