Latin American and U.S. Military Seeking Strategy Against Gangs and Drugs

By Dialogo
April 23, 2009

Representatives of the armed forces of Central America, the United States, and other Latin American countries met Wednesday in Honduras for a two-day meeting to draw up plans for combating gangs and drug trafficking rings, military chiefs reported. The meeting, with the slogan "Building for the Future, Providing an Alternative to Gangs and Drugs," was inaugurated by the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Honduran Armed Forces, General Romeo Vásquez. "We are in a state of war against crime; the situation is not secure," the general warned. Participants in this event included military officials from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, the United States, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Colombia, as well as police representatives from Costa Rica and Panama (countries which have no armies). Vásquez admitted that the fight against juvenile gangs or “maras,” as well as against organized crime and drug trafficking, should be carried out with the cooperation between countries. He also stated that it is important that the United States, which already contributes to the region with the Merida Initiative, strengthen support for the fight against crime on the continent.