Central America to join in fight against maras

By Dialogo
September 16, 2010

Following El Salvador’s passing of an anti-gang bill on September 2, Guatemala’s Álvaro Colom advocated to extend the law in the area known as the Northern Triangle, formed by Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Colom supported the bill proposed by his Salvadoran counterpart Mauricio Funes in June 2010, according to a report by BBC Mundo, and pleaded for the three countries to join forces against the resurgence of organized crime and violence by the maras (gangs) and drug-traffickers.

Still, Colom noted that countries’ desire to join forces against crime is not new, and such initiatives have not always been effective, as in the case of Honduras, who has a similar anti-mara bill in place since 2003.

Henri Fino, a lawyer for the Institute on Human Rights at the Central American University (IDHUCA) in El Salvador, told BBC Mundo, “Countries cannot combat gangs by themselves,” because it would only cause the problem to be transported from one country to the next.

Salvadoran Secretary of Communications of the presidency David Rivas announced President Funes’ proposal is not only resonating in Central America, but also in Mexico, where a high-level commission has recently been created to work jointly against organized crime.

After raising the issue in forums from Mexico to the United States, Funes requested Washington to join the fight against narco-trafficking.

Meanwhile, the FBI has announced there are some 60,000 gang members in the Central America, especially in the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. According to their report, these gangs are responsible for criminal activities such as arms trafficking, drug-trafficking, extortion and murders in the region, underlined BBC Mundo.