Armies Will Be Key in Anti-Drug Fight in Central America

By Dialogo
March 08, 2012

The head of the U.S. Southern Command, General Douglas Fraser, predicted on March 6 that the Armed Forces will continue to play a key role in the fight against organized crime in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, in response to “alarming increases in murders and brutality.”

“We expect militaries in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador will continue to be called upon to play an important role in domestic security matters in the coming years,” Fraser said in testimony to the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.

The Military commander recalled that according to UN figures, Central America has become the most violent region in the world, and within the region, Honduras is the hardest hit.
In 2011, San Pedro Sula in Honduras “overtook Ciudad Juarez as the most violent city in the world, with 159 homicides per 100,000 residents,” Fraser noted.

In view of the “rising wave of violence,” the resources and capabilities of local police forces are outmatched, and consequently, “these countries view their militaries as the only entities capable of responding to these threats,” he judged.

The head of the Southern Command said that due to the magnitude of the problem, “in the immediate future, we will focus our efforts on strengthening the security capacities of our partners in Central America.”

Fraser recalled that since January, the United States has been coordinating what is known as Operation Martillo [Hammer], an exercise to fight drug trafficking along the Central American coasts that has been joined by the countries of the region and several European ones.

The results of that operation “can be amplified by aligning our air and maritime focus with complementary land (…) activities conducted” by the Central American countries, Fraser added.