Central America Needs US$150 Million to Renew Defense Armaments
By Dialogo August 01, 2011
Central American defense ministers acknowledged that the region needs an immediate budget of US$ 150 million dollars to renew armaments and equipment, as well as other security needs, in order to effectively battle organized crime.
This was confirmed by Salvadoran Defense Minister Gen. David Munguía Payés in the context of a meeting with the majority of his regional counterparts in San Salvador on 27 July, as part of the Conference of Central American Armed Forces (CFAC), a body the Higher Council of which Munguía also chairs.
The Dominican Republic also participates in the Central American Armed Forces body as a guest, as in the majority of the isthmus’s integration institutions.
U.S. Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal, who is on a tour of the region, also participated as a special guest in the high-level meeting of military leaders from the Central American region and the Dominican Republic.
With regard to the deficiencies in the equipment of the region’s armies, Munguía Payés again drew attention to El Salvador’s lack of air defense, since the A-37 fighters of the Salvadoran Air Force (FAS) are presumed to be grounded due to the planes’ age and their high cost of operation.
In May, Munguía announced that the Salvadoran Army would need a budgetary supplement of more than US$ 30 million for the remainder of the year, but President Mauricio Funes announced in July that many ministries would have to tighten their fiscal belts for the rest of the year, since the state would not have enough money.
The lack of these planes is noticeable, above all, because they were the “interceptors” of planes suspected of carrying drugs that invade Salvadoran airspace and are then escorted out of it in order to prevent them from unloading their cargo on the country’s territory, General Munguía acknowledged.
“As you know, the United States has a monitoring center at El Salvador International Airport, but at the moment, we lack the aircraft that can intercept planes that enter our airspace illegally,” Munguía said.
Guatemala urgently needs at least two or three primary radars to cover its airspace and combat “small drug planes” or other kinds of planes carrying illicit cargos.
In the case of Honduras, it is also believed to need equipment of that kind for its waters and airspace in the Caribbean, where on 13 July it detained a crew who were in possession of drugs and had scuttled a submersible allegedly carrying more narcotics. Honduras is also weighing the purchase of a fleet of Embraer Super Tucanos.
General Munguía also recalled the concept of the shared responsibility of the United States, especially in the area of drug trafficking, and that seed money of US$ 200 million has already been offered, following President Barack Obama’s visit to El Salvador in mid-February.
“In fact, in the particular case of El Salvador, we work very closely with the U.S. Southern Command; we liaise with the monitoring facilities they have in Florida to track drug trafficking,” the Salvadoran military leader specified.
The USA has 150 Million for defense against organized crimeâ€¦Why not use it instead on education and legalize the business of those that are occupied with the organized crime? I suppose that trafficking of drugs is the most lucrative, it seems like a good startâ€¦..