“Central America’s Violent Northern Triangle” Danielle Renwick, Council on Foreign Relations, 16 Janjuary 2016

Tens of thousands of Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Hondurans, many of them unaccompanied minors, have arrived in the United States in recent years, seeking asylum from the region’s skyrocketing violence”

The region now referred to as Central America’s “Northern Triangle” has become an epicenter of violence and, for many locals, a nearly uninhabitable area. For this reason, almost 10% of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala’s populations have emigrated, the majority Northward bound to the United States. Among the scores of Central Americans arriving at the US border, however, were unaccompanied minors desperately seeking asylum from the violence that plagues their homes. El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala are ranked among the most violent countries in the world. El Salvador’s homicide rate of 90 per  100.000 this past year, overwhelmingly connected to gang violence, brought it the title of the most violent country in the world not at war. Accompanying such significant levels of violence is rampant corruption in the region’s governments. Recent happenings in Honduras and Guatemala have suggested the idea of a “Central American spring,” due to the rise in protests denouncing extortion and corruption and demanding that their leaders demonstrate greater honesty and accountability. Perhaps the reason for such extensive and long-lasting violence can be attributed to these weak, corrupt and underfunded institutions, which are supposed to address gang violence and extortion. On a surface level, efforts have been made to put in place some “mano dura” --or “heavy hand”-- policies to enforce greater punishments for gang members, though they had little success and actually contributed to a rise in gang members, due to the high concentration of them in prison. In part due to pressure from the US, an “Alliance for Prosperity” was created among the Northern Triangle countries, to attempt to boost local economies, create more jobs and improve public safety. The Obama Administration has requested $1 billion to invest in governance, economic development and security programs for the region. Now the question is: will it be enough to hinder the violence plaguing the Northern Triangle?


“Central America’s Violent Northern Triangle” Danielle Renwick, Council on Foreign Relations, 16 Janjuary 2016


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