The U.S. State Department official responsible for the fight against drugs, William Brownfield, announced on March 14 that he will travel to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador to lay out “concrete” plans, in response to local leaders’ frustration due to rampant violence associated with organized crime.
In a discussion at the State Department transmitted over the Internet, Brown said that the trip he will make in two weeks will serve to “talk directly with representatives of the three Governments (…) about concrete and specific programs.”
The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Anti-Narcotics Affairs said that he understood the concerns about violence among the leaders of the region, which has become the world’s most violent, according to UN figures, as a consequence of organized crime and drug trafficking.
“The three governments have all the right in the world to tell the international community that the time for talks has passed, the time for action is here,” he stated.
For that reason, Brownfield said that he will talk about solid programs to train police officers, border guards, and prison guards and to set up police stations in vulnerable communities.
In Honduras, specifically, Brownfield will visit the Comayagua prison, where a raging fire left 361 prisoners dead on February 14, to announce a collaboration to improve the prison system.
He will also offer helicopters to contribute to Honduras’s fight against drug trafficking, he said.
At the same time, Brownfield expressed the opinion that the use of military personnel in the fight against organized crime in Central America, proposed by several countries, should be “very limited, very brief, and only in order to respond to an incredibly clear and concrete situation.”
“The militarization of the police mission” must be avoided, he asserted.
Brownfield asked the region for patience: “it took us 15 years to get into this crisis, and we’re going to need at least 5 years to get out” of it, he said.
The United States is continuing its Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), to which it has committed 260 million dollars.