Conference in El Salvador Discusses Narco-Terrorism and Violence in Mesoamerica

Por Dialogo
julho 30, 2010

I think some of the participant’s ideas are excellent, but I think an effort should be made to control all manner of communication in correctional facilities in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras as illicit orders are being given from these correctional facilities. (We have to invest in technology and not give the gangs a break)

“More than 90 percent of the crimes committed in El Salvador are the work of
gang members. Today, in order to be a member of one of these criminal groups, it’s
necessary to commit at least one homicide, and in some cases, up to six.” These were
a few of the statements made by the country’s defense minister, Gen. David Munguía
Payés, during his speech to open the Sixth Sub-Regional Conference for Mesoamerica,
held between 20 and 23 July in San Salvador and organized by the Center for
Hemispheric Defense Studies (CHDS).

The conference addressed topics related to current challenges in the
Mesoamerican region (Central America, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico),
primarily violence and drug trafficking, and was divided into plenary and
simultaneous sessions, with the presentation of academic papers on subjects such as
the analysis of the underlying causes and effects of the insecurity, criminality,
and violence in the region, as well as their impact on regional societies.

“The fundamental idea was to design three days of intensive academic work so
that the participants from North America, Central America, and South America, actors
and experts on security and defense issues in Mesoamerica, could interact on the
basis of the thematic axes, which were selected in accordance with current trends in
the region,” said Richard Downie, CHDS

Among the suggestions made during the conference for confronting the region’s
problems, such as transnational security, terrorism, drug trafficking, and arms
smuggling, two of those that had the most impact on participants were those made by
Camilo Alfonso Ospina Bernal, former legal advisor to the office of the president
and former minister of national defense of Colombia.

During his address, Ospina Bernal suggested that “when a highly influential
criminal — especially one with connections to gangs or organized crime —
is arrested, he should be transfered to a jail in another country. This would cut
off his ties in his homeland, lower his morale, and impede him from communicating
with and passing instructions to his subordinates, and it would be the perfect form
of transregional and transnational interaction.”

In relation to the fight against drug trafficking, Ospina Bernal also
presented a proposal that, in his view, would be very effective. “When someone is
arrested and has assets that far surpass his financial possibilities, there needs to
be an investigation to see where the money to acquire those assets came from. If he
can’t prove the source, these assets should become state property. This would break
with what the drug traffickers like best: ostentatiously spending their illicit

The Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies annually organizes thematic
sub-regional conferences in order to improve the networks of contact and exchange
between CHDS graduates and regional leaders. The CHDS was created during the Hemispheric Conference on
Defense Education for Civilians in September 1997. The next sub-regional conference
will be held in South America in 2011, according to CHDS