Latin America and US Debate Drugs and Maritime Protection in Costa Rica

By Dialogo
March 22, 2012

Representatives from Central America, the United States, Mexico, Colombia,
Ecuador, and Peru met in Costa Rica on March 20 to analyze effective methods for
combating drug trafficking and regional protection of the region’s maritime

“It’s to talk about the fight against illicit drug networks, share
experiences and trends, and synchronize our efforts against drug traffickers in
order to provide synchronized responses,” declared Mark Wells, a director of
anti-narcotics affairs at the U.S. State Department.

Wells indicated that the framework for the fight being waged by these
countries against drug-trafficking activities in the region includes strengthening
state and civil-society institutions, in response to the possibility of their
penetration by drug traffickers.

“We’re planning how to strengthen state institutions and civil society. It’s
necessary to strengthen them so that we can continue with the fight against this
plague,” Wells emphasized in advance of the start of the talks at a hotel in the

The meeting brought together officials responsible for “law enforcement and
maritime protection in regions of origin and in narcotics transit countries in the
Western Hemisphere,” according to an official press release.

On the agenda were topics such as the Central America Regional Security
Initiative, regional cooperation, exchanges regarding maritime operations to protect
ocean resources, joint operations on the high seas, and the threats facing the
region as a consequence of drug trafficking.

The United States holds that 90 percent of the drugs consumed in its
territory pass through the maritime or land territory of Mexico and Central America,
the latter of which has become the world’s most violent region due to the activities
of drug traffickers and youth gangs.

The two-day event, organized by the Costa Rican Security Ministry and the
U.S. embassy, is the eleventh multilateral maritime meeting against drugs and for
marine protection.

The meeting in Costa Rica precedes the summit of Central American presidents
to be held on March 24, in Guatemala, where they will discuss alternatives in order
to combat drug trafficking effectively.