“Four Central American countries --Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua-- are struggling, still burdened by the legacy of the last century’s wars… But now there is reason to hope that these countries’ prospects could improve”.
The crippling effects of a plethora of wars within Central America --specifically Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador-- are still being felt in the region today. The latter three countries, in particular, are currently facing extreme amounts of violence and grinding poverty. In Guatemala, for instance, large-scale criminal organizations have deeply rooted themselves within the Government’s institutions, and the nation has become a key middle passage for drug-trafficking operations between Mexico and Colombia. Just to the South, Honduras has also encountered the threat of partnerships that have formed between local gangs and international groups of organized crime, also predominantly in relation to drug trafficking. Important to note, however, is the contrast in the motivation for much of the violence plaguing El Salvador. Considering that El Salvador is typically not a hub for narco traffic, it is key to recognize the role that the Government’s responses to local gangs has had on violence recently. Federal legislation called for a ceasefire with the gangs just 15 years ago, but the current Administration decision to repeal the deal has led to a dramatic increase in deaths and gang violence. Notable as well is that extensive poverty throughout Central America, though a significant challenge within itself, is also strongly correlated to the levels of violence. There is further concern that such states of impoverishment have created a dependency in the region upon financial aid from their Northern neighbor, the United States. And despite US efforts to stop the large masses of Central Americans immigrating into the country, there is hope for more sustainable involvement from Barack Obama’s Administration. The United States’ participation in the Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), for instance, has made significant strides. There are hopes, thus, that the US will continue to lead the way in post-war proceedings and anti-corruption efforts in the area, as opposed to simply continuing with its “support” for the war on drugs.