Clinton Announces More U.S. Aid for Central America, but Asks for Commitment

By Dialogo
June 24, 2011

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in Guatemala on 22 June that the United States has increased its crime-fighting cooperation in Central America to 300 million dollars this year, 40 million more than in 2010, but she also asked for greater commitment from the countries in the region.

While you take up your responsibility, we will take up ours, the chief U.S. diplomat said in her speech at the conference organized by Central American countries to present a new security plan to cooperating nations and organizations.

Faced with rising levels of crime and drug trafficking in Central America, “we will respond with almost 300 million dollars this year, backed up by an action plan that is focused on high-impact investments,” Clinton said.

The new amount is an increase of 40 million dollars over the 260 million dollars that the United States had previously committed to the isthmus this year through the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), in what is the world’s most violent region outside of war zones, according to the UN.

“We see this (aid) not just as an obligation, but as a mutual responsibility,” she said.

Clinton affirmed that her country, the chief consumer of drugs and the source of trafficked arms that feed organized crime, understands that it should do its part, but the countries of the region, with weak institutions and low levels of tax collection, need to make a greater effort, she said.

Political will is indispensable for rooting out corruption and ensuring effective and accountable institutions, Clinton said at the meeting, in which the seven Central American heads of government, the heads of government of Mexico and Colombia, the Spanish foreign minister, and several international organizations participated.

U.S. resources will be dedicated chiefly to training and providing technology to police officers, training judges and prosecutors, programs to collaborate on fiscal reform, and protection of the most vulnerable populations, Clinton said.

The United States will also support programs to “keep young people away from criminal activity” and hopes that the Central American private sector will collaborate with these initiatives, she emphasized.

To demonstrate Washington’s commitment to the region, Clinton announced that her country will request observer status with the Central American Integration System (SICA).