There is no question that the economies of the United States of America and the countries of Central and South America are profoundly interconnected. The implications of this economic relationship are multifaceted and the correlations are not always obvious. However, in the case of citizen security in Central America it is clear that the present issues can be traced to the interconnected economies of the United States and Latin America. Located between the drug producing countries in South America and the drug consuming United States of America and Canada, Central America is rife with drug trafficking along with gang related criminal activity and government corruption.
There have been multiple attempts over the past couple of decades to address the security issues in Central America, but none have yielded any positive results. In fact, drug production has only increased over the past twenty years (General Accounting Office, 1994). In response to the failed attempts, the United States developed the Mérida Initiative in 2007 to drastically progress the standard of living for Mexican and Central American citizens. From the Mérida Initiative the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) branched out to allocate funds and focus attention on the Central American region. Although CARSI has experienced some success in improving security conditions in Central America, there is still much to accomplish before citizens of Central America can feel secure.
Background Security Policy
Prior to the Mérida Initiative, most efforts towards improving security conditions in Central America focused on the prohibition of narcotics. Operation Cadence was put in place in 1991 to intercede drug shipments from Columbia travelling through Central America. The United States sent trained officials from the DEA and DOD to operate the interdiction efforts. Although approximately 29 metric tons of cocaine, the most prolific drug in Central America, were seized from 1991-1994, Operation Cadence was ruled unsuccessful in 1994 after officials observed a consistent, declining seizure trend from year to year (General Accounting Office). According to one Honduras state official, Operation Cadence was not a sustainable plan because it “would quickly wither away without the continued insistence and assistance from the United States” (General Accounting Office). A different policy would be necessary for long term security in Central America, one which promotes eventual Central American independence from the United States’ assistance.
The security in question for citizens of Central America is the security of their lives. In 2006 there were 14,257 reported homicides in Central America which is approximately 1 murder every 37 minutes. In contrast, Spain, which has a similar population size to Central America, reported 336 homicides in 2006 – so, for every reported homicide in Spain there were approximately 42 homicides in Central America (Serrano-Berthet & Lopez, 2011, p....