Salvadoran Defense Ministry Will Ask for $33.8 Million for Security
By Dialogo May 11, 2011The Salvadoran Defense Ministry will request a budgetary supplement of $33.8 million U.S. dollars in order to continue guaranteeing support for joint security measures with the National Civil Police (PNC).
This was confirmed during the first week in May by the head of the Salvadoran Defense Ministry, Gen. David Munguía Payés, who also indicated that President Mauricio Funes will very soon announce a course correction in the security strategy he has been implementing since the beginning of his term, in June 2009, in cooperation with the PNC and the Army, which is marking the 187th anniversary of its founding this Saturday, 7 May, the date on which Soldier’s Day is celebrated in El Salvador, according to a report in the Salvadoran daily El Mundo [The World].
The Army has carried out that function of support for the police, by presidential order, since 6 November 2009, due to the high crime rates that have affected El Salvador for several months.
In May 2010, Funes extended for a year the presence of military personnel in the streets to combat crime, an extension that expired on 6 May; added three thousand soldiers to military forces in twenty-nine areas; and expanded the troops’ activities to “blind spots” or unmonitored border locations, in addition to sending military personnel to some of the country’s prisons. The Salvadoran Armed Forces have over fifteen thousand members, including officers and enlisted personnel.
Responsibility for public safety was withdrawn from the military by the peace agreements, but under exceptional circumstances, the president may require them to provide support for this purpose to the PNC, an institution that is independent from the Army and was created, together with other bodies, following the end of twelve years of hostilities, from 1980 to 1992.
The nearly 34 million U.S. dollars, Munguía Payés specified, will be used to cover the expenses incurred by the institution since it was designated to carry out public-safety tasks such as surveillance along the borders and in prisons, as well as searching inmates’ visitors.
“When we receive a mission that is in addition to the one we have and that implies the incorporation of new elements into the Armed Forces in order to carry out these plans, this implies more resources,” he said in justification.
According to the highest-ranking Salvadoran military commander, around 3,500 soldiers have been incorporated into the security plan since 2010, and the money would be used to cover the cost of maintaining those personnel for two years. It would also cover salaries and the cost of food and supplies, such as uniforms.
He also said that a meeting has already been held with the treasury minister and that it was the Security Cabinet’s idea to consolidate all the expenses of the PNC, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and the militia for the next two years.