Under-resourced health systems and poverty, along with the grassroots power of criminal groups and gangs, make Central American countries highly vulnerable to COVID-19 and the knock-on effects of national lockdowns on people’s livelihoods and security. But it is the region’s relentless migratory flows, whether legal or undocumented, forced or voluntary, that are shaping up to be the weakest links in virus prevention campaigns. Above all, deportations from the U.S. and Mexico now threaten to become leading vectors of southward transmission and could spark worsening unrest among fearful residents. Central American governments should respond by urging the U.S. either to pause deportations or to reform how they are handled, ensuring that strict health checks are in place before any more migrants are sent back.… Seguir leyendo »
Gang violence, fueled by the drug trade in Latin America, Central America and the Caribbean, is having a serious effect on people’s lives and threatens to alter the social fabric of the countries in the region. Central American gangs, also called “maras,” named after the voracious ants known as “marabuntas,” are involved in a wide range of criminal activities such as arms and drug trafficking, kidnapping, human trafficking, people smuggling and illegal immigration.
In Latin America, gang violence is not limited to the Central American region. Gang activity has intensified throughout the continent and has even reached Argentina. In Japan, gang violence is also present.… Seguir leyendo »
As we were reminded last summer when thousands of unaccompanied children showed up on our southwestern border, the security and prosperity of Central America are inextricably linked with our own.
The economies of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras remain bogged down as the rest of the Americas surge forward. Inadequate education, institutional corruption, rampant crime and a lack of investment are holding these countries back. Six million young Central Americans are to enter the labor force in the next decade. If opportunity isn’t there for them, the entire Western Hemisphere will feel the consequences.
Confronting these challenges requires nothing less than systemic change, which we in the United States have a direct interest in helping to bring about.… Seguir leyendo »
Three decades ago, President Ronald Reagan convened a group of Republican and Democratic leaders — known as the Kissinger commission — and charged it to make recommendations on how the United States could best help the countries of Central America thwart Soviet- and Cuban-supported guerrilla movements by promoting democracy and economic development. Reagan faced fierce opposition from some quarters in Washington, but his policies — and the sacrifices of many U.S. friends in the region — helped bring about three decades of relative peace and economic growth in Central America.
Unfortunately, those gains are at risk. The region’s challenges today are less about ideology than about criminality and corruption that threaten to undermine democratic institutions, the rule of law and public security.… Seguir leyendo »
During Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s trip to Guatemala this week, the governments of Central America will unveil their strategy for fighting entrenched organized crime in the region. The meeting is meant to raise the profile of the isthmus’ severely deteriorated security situation and marshal international resources to the task of improving it.
The stakes are high. Central America’s drug-related security plight is as grave as Mexico’s. Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have violence rates second only to those of active war zones. Honduras’ murder rate (77 per 100,000 people in 2010) is 15 times that of the United States and more than four times that of Mexico.… Seguir leyendo »