Monday, May 13, 2013
Central America's Security
Challenges must be a Wake-Up Call
Escalating homicides and violence in the northern
cone nations of Central America continue to pose misery and despair for all those in the path. This scourge, perceived to
be simply nestled within the narrow chokepoint that is Central America, continues to resonate in a myriad of new adversities
and challenges in all directions.
As many governments and
their security forces within the affected areas appear to be dysfunctional in terms of having answers or the necessary resources
to be proactive in meeting the challenges, some other nations remain stymied by indecision and mental paralysis due to the
"Not in my backyard" is a popular saying by many when
their pronounced line in the sand has not been crossed in a manner that panics and instinctively breeds fear. Many confuse
that line with the analogy of a swinging gate or revolving door that filters a somewhat perceived methodical transition of
The border regions between Mexico and the U.S., and Mexico
with Guatemala and Belize, are areas where virtual criminal insurgency wars are being waged. Honduras and El Salvador are
the next layer to the south facing this transnational insurgency. Moving south, most other Central and South American
nations report lesser urgency, but spikes in violence, crime and drug use escalation are being reported.
As it should be clear by now to the masses, the popular phrase of "securing the border"
is a feel good statement that is meant well, but "the border" will always be for a line that will be crossed due
to the inherent nature of those seeking to flee to a new or better place, illicit supply and demand trafficking, and by those
seeking to do harm to others. It can only be hoped that borders will not be ignored, and that officials will be given the
needed resources to control the flow of all illegal entry to the best of the governing bodies' abilities.
Starting with Mexico and Central America, the dynamics of their own border failures progressively
resonates from nation to nation. This ultimately fuels the U.S. border security dilemma, and the urgency to properly assess
threats and deploy adequate resources and methods to achieve an acceptable level of national security. We are not even speaking
of the monumental measures necessary to maintain and interdict maritime and aviation security threats.
South of the U.S. there are nations with weak governance, lawless zones,
corruption, impunity, criminal threats, weak judicial systems and poverty, all of which contribute to the widespread insecurity
of the region.
How can multifaceted security conditions in these countries
be addressed and improved? Many of these nations instantly claim that the voracious U.S. drug demand is the problem and is
responsible for the record-setting homicide rates and violence throughout the Americas.
There is no doubt that well-financed drug trafficking organizations, gangs and other transnational organized criminals
overwhelm governments' resources, but the rule of law must be enforced in civilized societies; human life must be respected,
and human rights prevail.
Criminal death and violence far exceed
the simple boundaries of drug trafficking. The criminal organizations are thriving on robbery; kidnapping and extortion; murder
for hire; human, sex and arms trafficking; and other acts of threat and intimidation. Some nations have expressed fear of
becoming failed states due to the armies of crime that carry no flag or political allegiance.
Many list the underlying social conditions and structural weaknesses of persistent poverty, inequality, and unemployment
as primary reasons for not being able to recover from the violence. Others claim that the easy and immediate lure to vast
amounts of wealth achievable through crimes and not through years of intense labor is a preferable choice. After all, the
claim of an estimated US$60 billion a year drug addiction that must be supplied is real, and the necessary tools such as land
vehicles, aircraft, maritime vessels, and related properties, wealth, and lifestyles must be maintained. Hard to convince
those used to a more lavish lifestyle to return to the factories or farms.
in Guatemala is continuing to climb at a steady rate. Guatemala's National Institute of Forensic Sciences recently
reported that an analysis revealed MS-13 gangs there used 32 different guns "to allegedly commit 238 murders."
Prosecutors say the MS members used the weapons to kill rival gang members, prison guards, and victims of robbery and extortion.
The on-going threats to the Americas are clearly indicated by the continuously shifting roles
of military to policing duties. Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala "have deployed thousands of troops to help
their often underpaid and poorly equipped police forces to carry out public security functions, without clearly defining when
those deployments might end."
Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation
firm headquartered in northern Virginia. His website is located at http://www.cjiausa.org/.