Northern Triangle Task Forces Stronger than Ever

Northern Triangle Task Forces Stronger than Ever

By Iris Amador/Diálogo
March 24, 2017

In a visit to El Poy border crossing between Honduras and El Salvador, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández announced that his administration will bolster the task forces in charge of safeguarding the borders between Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, the three countries known as the Northern Triangle of Central America. “There had never been any willingness by the three nations to mount a single front against the lack of public safety stemming from common criminality, transnational crime, and the smuggling of arms, drugs, and merchandise,” said President Hernández. “The passage of time has shown that we are right to do so. Creating these task forces was the correct decision, and we are going to continue improving and further refining each of them in order to keep the region safe.” Improvements include rebuilding and redesigning the infrastructure where migration and customs offices are housed, as well as the offices of judges, public prosecutors, and the military police. The number of military units along the borders will be increased, and they will be equipped with more technology for communication and patrols. Canine teams will also be deployed and incorporated in current operations. Crime has no borders Honduran Infantry Colonel Luis Alonso García, commander of the Lenca unit of Joint Task Force Lenca-Sumpul, told Diálogo that their military presence covers all 375 kilometers of the border between Honduras and El Salvador. “Our surveillance includes river patrols along the four rivers that make up the border line between Honduras and El Salvador- the Goascorán River in Valle; the Torola River in La Paz and Intibucá; the Lempa River in Lempira, and the Sumpul River in Ocotepeque,” he specified. “Crime has no borders, but we’re here to keep the maras and gang members from [crossing] from El Salvador into Honduras or vice versa,” Col. García stated. “We’re here to keep members of crime syndicates from using the neighboring country as a rest stop. If they try that, they’ll find that there is no free passage at the border.” This initiative is part of the Northern Triangle’s Alliance for Prosperity Plan, the implementation of which is backed by $750 million approved by the U.S. Congress in 2015. Since then, the governments of the three Central American nations have rigorously met the timelines they set with the U.S. The plan provides for the creation of economic opportunities, as well as greater security for the citizenry. The Honduran government wants to attract private investments in sectors such as tourism and the agricultural industry in order to stimulate the economy and create jobs. It has been working on modernizing the road infrastructure, promoting foreign trade, and improving education. To reinforce public safety, the government is also taking steps to modernize the justice system and give the people greater access to justice, as well as strengthening institutions for the purpose of increasing the public’s trust in government. Northern Triangle defense officials created bi-national task forces to respond to the increasing numbers of emigrants. First, Honduras and Guatemala set up Joint Task Force Maya-Chortí in March 2015. And Joint Task Force Lenca-Sumpul, between Honduras and El Salvador, went into operation in September 2016. Reducing the presence of maras Honduras and El Salvador have checkpoints along the highways connecting the two nations. Until a couple of years ago, members of Mara Salvatrucha would hold up public buses. Col. García confirmed that residents in border areas and people traveling to and from the two countries are now satisfied with the patrols. “Travelers run into us at various points along the highway, and we’re there so that they can move freely and can peacefully go about their daily activities,” he said. Military Justice Lieutenant Colonel Santos Nolasco,spokesperson for the National Interinstitutional Security Task Force, told Diálogo that the military police have closed 38 illegal crossings in the border areas. “There is peace and security at the border,” he said. “Additionally, Honduras has started working with Nicaragua to protect its third border.”
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