U.S. to invest $100 million more in regional security

The United States has pledged $300 million, an increase of $100 million, to bolster citizen security in Central America.

That was the announcement by Hillary Clinton at the Central American Security Conference in Guatemala City Wednesday. The amount is 50 percent more than U.S. President Barack Obama promised in his March visit to El Salvador, she noted. She is the U.S. secretary of State.

Canada, in a separate announcement, said it would contribute $5.2 million to improve crime-fighting capacities.

In total, countries have earmarked about $1 billion to augment the unified effort against transnational crime. And more money is on the way.

“We have private sector partners who have pledged that for every dollar the United States commits to crime prevention, businesses in El Salvador will invest three dollars,” said Mrs. Clinton, adding that “I would welcome the private sector across the region to join in such an innovative approach.”

She also extended this theme to challenge private firms. “Businesses and the rich in every country must pay their fair share of taxes and become full partners in a whole-of-society effort,” she said. “True security cannot be funded on the backs of the poor. Civil society must be a full partner in defining and implementing long-term solutions”

“When President Obama visited San Salvador, he said we would start by investing more than $200 million in Central American-led efforts to address deteriorating citizen security,” said Mrs, Clinton. “In fact, the U.S. funding for
the Central American Citizen Security Partnership will go even further than that. You have identified your priorities, you have set your strategy, and we will respond with almost $300 million this year, backed up by an action plan that is focused on high-impact investments to help you build new capabilities and create the reforms you need from within.”

“Our investments will support special vetted police units, initiatives like the SICA Regional Crime Observatory to bring technology, data, and intelligence together, support to train judges and prosecutors, a fund to encourage fiscal reform, and a new challenge grants program, starting with $20 million this year to support initiatives to bolster the rule of law. And as always, we will support efforts to protect and empower women and girls who are too often the targets of so much of the violence.”

President Laura Chinchilla and René Castro, foreign minister of Costa Rica, advanced a unique proposal that the United States pay for each kilo of cocaine confiscated in Central America. the money would come out of a fund. The U.S. already is investing heavily in Costa Rican security, mainly with police and coast guards.

Although cocaine is viewed as the main problem, more and more synthetics are being fabricated in Central American and México for shipment to the United States. Washington has been unable to secure its southern border.

Cocaine also has infiltrated life in Costa Rica. The poor areas are inundated with cheap crack cocaine. International smugglers frequently pay their costs here in cocaine, so there is an excess in the country. Countries further north like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras also experience gang troubles as well as infiltration by the Mexican drug cartels.

The regional meeting in Guatemala brought together the heads of state of most Central American countries and a host of participants from elsewhere in the world. Mrs. Clinton said that the United States would seek observer status in the Sistema de Integración Centroamericana, which sponsored the meting.

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