Entradas etiquetadas como Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI)

Have US-Funded CARSI Programs Reduced Crime and Violence in Central America?

This report examines the data collected during the LAPOP study and subjects them to a number of statistical tests. The authors find that the study cannot support the conclusion that the areas subject to treatment in the CARSI programs showed better result

Origen: Have US-Funded CARSI Programs Reduced Crime and Violence in Central America?

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CentAm Drug Initiative Boasts Questionable Victories in 5th Year

The US-backed anti-drug initiative Operation Martillo has been hammering away at drug traffic in Central American waters for over four years, but it is unclear how much of a dent its reported successes have made in organized crime.

Origen: CentAm Drug Initiative Boasts Questionable Victories in 5th Year

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Will Biden’s Billion Dollar Plan Help Central America?

Militarizing security, deregulating markets, and dismantling labor rights isn’t the solution.

Alexander Main
02/27/2015

Vice President Biden at a Rally (BethRankin/CreativeCommons)

On January 29, the White House announced that $1 billion in assistance to Central America would be included in its budget request for fiscal year 2016. The goal of this aid, as Vice President Joe Biden described it in a New York Times op-ed, is to help the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras “change the climate of endemic violence and poverty” that has led to a “dangerous surge in migration,” as exemplified by last summer’s influx of unaccompanied child migrants. Explicitly modeled on Plan Colombia, the aid package would help make the region “overwhelmingly middle class, democratic and secure.”

Central Americans may well greet Biden’s assertions with skepticism. From the U.S.-backed dirty wars of the 1980s to the broken promises of economic development under the Central American Free Trade Agreement, the historical record shows that U.S. policies and assistance have often undermined prosperity, stability, and democracy in the region. More recently, human rights advocates have expressed deep concern regarding the marked increase in U.S. military and police assistance to Central America’s poor and crime-ridden Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) since the mid 2000s. Though the purported objectives of this assistance are to fight drug trafficking and enhance “citizen security,” Honduras is today the deadliest country in the world, while El Salvador and Guatemala have higher murder rates than during their respective civil wars. Meanwhile, the flow of cocaine through Central America’s drug-trafficking corridor has actually continued to rise, according to the State Department’s own figures.

At first glance, the White House’s new plan appears to herald a salutary shift away from the U.S. government’s failed regional security policy. A White House summary of the plan emphasizes U.S. economic and development assistance and support for improved governance, while indicating that less than one-third of the requested funds would go toward military and police programs.

However, a closer look at the numbers in the president’s FY16 budget request suggests that Central Americans will have to brace themselves for a good deal more of the same sort of security assistance. While a major increase in funding for economic and development aid may have some positive repercussions, the fact that it appears designed in part to bolster a neoliberal development plan for the Northern Triangle sets off alarm bells. In addition, plans for promoting governance and reform appear to rely largely on the political will of national authorities – a highly tenuous assumption in countries like Honduras and Guatemala.

Let’s start with sections of the Biden plan that deal with military and police assistance. While the proportion of funding earmarked for support to the armed forces and counter-narcotics is smaller in relation to other forms of aid, it increases significantly in absolute terms under the White House’s proposed budget. Proposed military assistance – e.g., Foreign Military Funding and International Military Education and Training – remain at roughly the same levels as in 2014. However, the funding for International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) assistance to Central America – much of which provides support to police forces – would jump from $100 million in FY2014 to $205 million under the Biden plan. It is troubling that these funds would be channeled through the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), a multilateral cooperation mechanism that is notoriously opaque, leaving the public and members of Congress with little idea of where and how funds are used.

In recent years the majority of CARSI funds have gone to the Northern Triangle despite countless reports of abuses carried out by the police and army there—including frequent extrajudicial killings. The involvement of Honduran military and police forces in killings and attacks targeting civil society leaders, with near total impunity, prompted 94 members of the U.S. Congress to urge the Obama administration to cut off all security assistance to Honduras. The level of alarm is such that both parties in Congress have agreed to language in appropriations legislation that requires the State Department to certify that Honduran and Guatemalan authorities meet basic human rights conditions before significant portions of security assistance can be disbursed to either country.

More worrying still is the fact that law enforcement in these countries is growing increasingly militarized. All three countries have deployed army units to police the streets and, in Honduras, the ruling party has sought to enshrine a new “military police of public order” in the nation’s constitution. Members of this military police have allegedly kidnapped and gang-raped a woman and attacked a prominent human rights defender, among other crimes. Yet, as with the vast majority of criminal acts committed by the country’s security forces, no one has been prosecuted or even suspended from duty for these crimes.

Even though INCLE funding and U.S. military assistance are pouring into the Northern Triangle’s increasingly militarized law enforcement systems, the Obama administration has avoided voicing its support for the region’s militarization. However, it is now heavily promoting Plan Colombia – a militarized security plan if there ever was one – as a model for its Central American assistance scheme. State Department officials – particularly in the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement bureau – have sought to present Plan Colombia as an outstanding success story, but human rights defenders consider it an unmitigated disaster. Parts of Colombia are more secure today, but the human toll of the plan is appalling: millions of Colombians displaced and thousands of innocent civilians [PDF]murdered by military troops.

One other aspect of the administration’s Central American security plan is worth addressing: the funding for increased enforcement at the southern borders of both the U.S. and Mexico. In Biden’s New York Times op-ed, the sharp spike in the number of Central American migrants reaching the U.S. is framed as a “dangerous” security threat. Following this xenophobic logic, which closely matches the discourse of some Republicans, Biden’s billion includes an unspecified amount of funding to help Mexico and the Northern Triangle governments enforce their borders in order to prevent thousands of potential migrants from getting anywhere near the U.S. border.

Indeed, one of the main reasons why the number of Central American migrants reaching the U.S. fell off in late 2014 is because, at the urging of the Obama administration, Mexico began cracking down intensely on illegal migration at its southern border through the Plan Frontera Sur. As a result of this proxy enforcement by Mexico, those fleeing violence and dire economic conditions are further criminalized and expeditiously deported with little regard to whether they qualify for political asylum or face life-threatening conditions in their communities of origin. Under the Biden plan, U.S. funds will help Mexico continue these mass deportations in the hope that they will be sufficient to avoid another politically damaging humanitarian crisis along the U.S.’ southwestern border.

Turning to other forms of assistance in the Biden plan: Many have applauded the fact that the budget for development aid funds to Northern Triangle countries would increase enormously, from around $100 million in FY2014 to $480 million. If this major expansion of assistance makes it past the Republicans’ cutting board in Congress – and that’s an extremely big if – it could provide the region with much-needed economic support. However, some of the administration’s description of how these funds would be used raise red flags for those concerned about the erosion of worker protections and attacks on public sector services throughout the region.

The president’s budget request states that the White House’s Central America plan is designed to “support the priority objectives” identified in the Alliance for Prosperity Plan that the Inter-American Development Bank helped the governments of the Northern Triangle draft late last year. As my colleague Dan Beeton recently wrote, “the plan brings to mind various past cases of crises exploited for economic gain, as Naomi Klein detailed in her landmark book, The Shock Doctrine.” Northern Triangle countries that badly need any sort of economic help may well see that help conditioned on the implementation of neoliberal policies.

Among the objectives of the Alliance for Prosperity plan is the “creation of special economic zones,” bringing to mind the neoliberal “charter cities” that are currently being developed in Honduras, and “improving labor market conditions,” euphemistic language that generally refers to the deregulation of labor markets and the dismantling of workers’ rights protections. Some of the language in the “development assistance” section of the president’s budget request – e.g., “the entire Central America region suffers from severe anti-competitive disadvantages that will be addressed by the [Central America] Strategy” – also evokes a strident anti-regulatory and privatization agenda that might benefit big foreign businesses, but could end up making life much more difficult for the average worker.

Finally, the White House fact sheet describing the Biden plan states that “nearly $250 million” would be channeled toward “improved governance” with programs aimed at enhancing “public sector fiscal management” and strengthening “the efficiency, accountability, and independence of judicial institutions.” But funding for judicial reform is of dubious value at best in a country like Honduras, where, two years ago, the Congress illegally fired most of the judges on the Supreme Court and replaced them with allies. In his New York Times op-ed, Biden stressed the importance of “political will” for the billion-dollar plan to work, yet Honduras’ ruling party dissolved a respected and independent police reform commission and refused to enact any of the measures the commission had recommended for mending the country’s corrupt and broken public security apparatus. Similar backtracking has occurred in Guatemala, with the annulment of the former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt’s conviction for genocide and the constitutional court’s decision to prematurely cut short the tenure of the widely-praised independent attorney general Claudia Paz y Paz.

If the U.S. really wants to help Central America, it needs to begin by re-thinking its foreign assistance to the region. It’s time to start listening to local human rights defenders and stop channeling military and police assistance to governments that militarize law enforcement and fail to curtail the abuses perpetrated by state forces. To effectively address the problem of violent crime in the Northern Triangle, the U.S. government should develop alternatives to its failed drug interdiction policies and help countries create good jobs through equitable and sustainable growth. To achieve this, U.S. development assistance should go first and foremost to local organizations, rather than to contractors inside the Beltway, and shouldn’t be predicated on dismantling worker protections and regulatory frameworks. Institutional reform – particularly judicial and law enforcement reform – is necessary, but far too politically and culturally sensitive to be achieved through direct U.S. assistance. Instead, the U.S. government should support the expansion of multilateral cooperation schemes like the U.N. International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, which has a proven track record of strengthening the rule of law.


Alexander Main is the Senior Associate for International Policy at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), with a focus on U.S. foreign policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Fuente: https://nacla.org/news/2015/02/27/will-biden%27s-billion-dollar-plan-help-central-america

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US Security Initiative Faces Political Obstacles in Northern Triangle

US President Barack Obama with presidents of the "Northern Triangle"US President Barack Obama with "Northern Triangle" presidents

A new report claims the lack of a comprehensive strategy has limited the effectiveness of US security initiative CARSI in Central America’s “Northern Triangle,” highlighting how divergent political interests can undermine bilateral security assistance programs.

A report (pdf) by the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC evaluated the impact of the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) — a US assistance program aimed at strengthening security apparatuses and lowering crime rates in Central America — in the “Northern Triangle” region (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras).

CARSI is described as an integrated and collaborative regional security program on the US State Department website. However, the absence of a cohesive strategy has produced disjointed efforts that are at times contradictory to CARSI’s stated goals, according to the report.

“Some agencies favor a more traditional counter-narcotics law-and-order focus, while others prioritize the reduction of community-based violence, and these distinct approaches periodically end up working at cross-purposes,” the authors write.

The lack of rigorous evaluations in measuring program results has further undermined the security initiative’s impact. When evaluations were administered, they often focused on what the report calls “inputs” — such as the number of police trained or drug seizures — while neglecting to identify the outcomes of these initiatives. A recent multi-year impact evaluation by Vanderbilt University’s Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) of USAID’s community-based crime prevention programs was highlighted as one notable exception.

The report also evaluated what the authors considered the successes and failures of CARSI-funded programs in each of the Northern Triangle countries.

Guatemala is considered the “centerpiece” of the US initiative, and has received the largest amount of funding since CARSI’s inception in fiscal year (FY) 2010. A focal point of the CARSI strategy in Guatemala has been improving the country’s counter-narcotics program. However, US-assisted maritime and aerial interdiction efforts have seen marginal success, while poppy eradication campaigns have provoked protests. On the other hand, CARSI has supported crime prevention programs and the creation of specialized courts for gender violence and potentially dangerous cases in Guatemala. The last of these have achieved a higher conviction rate than the national average.

CARSI-funded projects have also focused on combating drug trafficking in Honduras, as well as the related issue of money laundering. The report indicates that these efforts have been hampered by unsuccessful US attempts to reduce corruption in law enforcement agencies. One criticism was that programs tend to focus on training individuals, rather than reforming the institutions as a whole.

Meanwhile, CARSI initiatives have diverged with the security policies of current President Juan Orlando Hernandez. US assistance has sought to strengthen the country’s civilian police and judicial institutions as a means to reduce crime and violence, while Hernandez has taken a more hard-line approach to crime by building up the country’s military police force.

In El Salvador, CARSI has focused efforts on building the capacity of law enforcement and other government institutions. However, the projects have failed to address fundamental causes of El Salvador‘s epidemic violence, such as widespread corruption in the country’s judicial system.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Wilson Center report underscores the importance of a coordinated political effort in implementing a successful bilateral security assistance program like CARSI. This includes collaboration not only between the United States and the host country, but also within the US political system.

As indicated in the report, the tension between counter-narcotics programs and citizen security initiatives within CARSI’s guiding strategy is likely due to differing viewpoints on security policy in the Legislative and Executive branches of the United States.The deployment of US government agencies with divergent methods for improving the Northern Triangle’s security situation — such as the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) — further strain coordination efforts. While agencies such as the DEA tend to use traditional law enforcement techniques, USAID favors community-based crime prevention strategies.

Perhaps the most notable example of US political gridlock limiting CARSI’s impact is in El Salvador. According to the report, CARSI is unable to address two principal causes of insecurity in the country — US migration policy and illegal firearms — as they are highly controversial domestic issues in the United States.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profiles

The report indicates this is why there is no US funding earmarked for reintegrating adult deportees back into Salvadoran society. Considering that the country’s most powerful street gangs — the Barrio 18 and the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) — migrated to El Salvador in the 1990s following stiffer US deportation policies, the lack of US assistance in this regard is troubling. Meanwhile, more than half of all illegal firearms in El Salvador reportedly come from the United States, in large part due to lax US gun legislation.

As seen in Honduras, differing policy priorities between the United States and the host country are another obstacle in implementing a cohesive bilateral security strategy. This is true even for the community-based inititiatives implemented by USAID. While the LAPOP study showed these can be successful, they will only prove sustainable if the host countries demonstrate political will to favor these over hard-line security policies. So far, it is not clear this will be the case: Honduras‘ president is in the process of adding 1,000 new members to the country’s military police force and seeks to enshrine the unit in the Honduran constitution.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Security Policy

The diverging political objectives of the US and the Central American governments was also highlighted by an unproductive meeting between US Vice-President Joe Biden and the Northern Triangle presidents in mid-November, which demonstrated how far apart the two sides are in reaching a solution to the region’s child migrant crisis.

Fuente: http://www.insightcrime.org/news-analysis/us-carsi-political-obstacles-northern-triangle

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What USAID Impact Study Says about CentAm Community Crime Prevention

A USAID youth training center in El Salvador

A quantitative assessment of USAID’s community crime prevention work in Central America suggests that these programs have a significant positive impact on citizen security — some of the first empirical evidence supporting such strategies, though plenty of questions remain about how to make these results sustainable.

The study (pdf), undertaken by Vanderbilt University’s Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP), examined 127 neighborhoods in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama over the period 2010-2014 (see map). Based on citizen responses to survey questions in these communities, the researchers measured how much change over time in various security indicators could be attributed to USAID’s prevention work under the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI).

The selected neighborhoods shared characteristics that made them vulnerable to crime, such as unmet basic needs, high levels of unemployment, and a high number of youths not in school. Interventions included: working with community crime prevention committees, developing programs for at-risk youth, improving public spaces, and community policing.

interventionsites

By conducting more than 29,000 surveys, the researchers found a number of positive results, including the following:

  • Over the time period indicated, citizen reports of murders and extortion were both 51 percent lower in the treatment communities than would have been expected without USAID’s work.
  • Reports of drug sales were 25 percent lower.
  • Reports of robberies were 19 percent lower.
  • Reports that youth in gangs was a problem were 14 percent lower.
  • Perceptions of insecurity were 5 percent lower.
  • Satisfaction with police performance was 5 percent higher and trust in the police was 9 percent higher.
  • Of the four countries, the Guatemalan neighborhoods saw the most dramatic reductions in reports of murders and drug sales (60 percent and 50 percent, respectively).

The researchers also held 848 interviews with key community players, and 44 focus groups, which contributed to several policy recommendations. These included: support community-based crime prevention committees, increase material support for single parents and poor families, improve teacher training and expand the presence of child psychologists in school, increase student leadership opportunities, increase funding of church youth programs, and improve police coordination with the community.

In a Wilson Center event discussing the LAPOP findings, Vanderbilt staff said a key element of the study was that it measured results of USAID’s work as the actual perceived impact on local communities, rather than based on the number of activities they were engaged in, using a rigorous methodology (see illustration). The researchers chose communities that were non-adjacent, and randomly selected which would receive the “treatments.” They then developed a baseline and examined how this changed over time in both the control and treatment communities, measuring impact as the difference between the end results in the treatment communities and the predicted results if no intervention had occurred.

counterfactual

InSight Crime Analysis

The Vanderbilt study can be held up as concrete evidence that participative, localized crime prevention strategies can work in a region heavily impacted by violent street gangs and home to the world’s most violent country outside a war zone. It could thus lead to more US aid put into these programs and increase the commitment of the “Northern Triangle” governments of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to such programs.

There is a consensus emerging within certain sectors in the United States and in Latin America that “softer” prevention strategies should be a component to any security policy. This has already been reflected in the goals and budget of CARSI: in FY 2012 and 2013, $16.5 million went to USAID programs in Honduras alone. And the idea that communities should be deeply involved in addressing crime and insecurity is not new. Prior local experiences in both the US and the Northern Triangle have supported the need for programs to focus on building community ties with police, investing in youth programs, and providing additional support to families.

Until now, though, there was a lack of quantitative proof these strategies were effective. Eric Olson, the Associate Director of the Wilson Center’s Latin American Program, told InSight Crime: “Many of us have assumed that prevention is a good thing, an important element of any strategy, but there really hasn’t been any sort of systematic impact evaluation of that before.”

The Vanderbilt assessment comes at an interesting moment: with the goal of securing funding, the presidents of the Northern Triangle nations recently presented the US government with a joint plan for how they will stem the northward flow of unaccompanied child migrants from their countries to the US southwestern border, who numbered more than 60,000 in FY 2014. Strengthening community-based anti-gang programs is one element of the plan.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Security Policy

However, even if the US were to increase its funding, a number of issues remain in regard to making such strategies sustainable and giving them long-term impact.

One obstacle is political will: while verbally recognizing the importance of citizen security programs, the national governments of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala largely continue to prioritize reactive, hardline policies. Even now, Honduras plans to add 1,000 members to its military police, and El Salvador‘s ARENA party has proposed sending 10,000 soldiers onto the streets in the areas most affected by gangs.

So far, much of the impetus for community crime prevention has come from the US, said Olson. Ultimately, whether these programs are expanded and made sustainable over time will be a question of the Central American governments’ commitment to them, as well as a matter of convincing citizens — who often advocate for authoritarian policies in situations of extreme violence — of their value, he said.

Adam Isacson, a Senior Associate for Regional Security Policy at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), told InSight Crime that another, related issue for the Central American governments was cost: these programs “are expensive and they are not necessarily naturally profitable and sustainable.”

Additionally, some communities may be more receptive to these strategies than others. Isacson noted that implementing prevention programs in neighborhoods with the heaviest gang presence may be difficult, as in these places even the civic leaders may have been scared out.

Meanwhile, there are limitations to USAID’s work. Olson said one missing element was social reinsertion programs directed at youth offenders and gang members, with the body currently focusing prevention work on at-risk youth. There are also issues such as a lack of coherency in the CARSI strategy as a whole, and poor coordination between USAID and other US government bodies working in the region, a Wilson Center assessment found earlier this year.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Judicial Reform

Olson and Isacson both agreed that USAID was on the right track, and that the Vanderbilt assessment was likely to contribute to building the political will necessary to see localized crime prevention strategies develop further. Nonetheless, USAID’s work is “just a piece of the puzzle,” Isacson said. To have a wider impact, these community-based efforts need to be complemented by state efforts to build national institutions, such as a trustworthy police force and a functional justice system — which are sorely lacking in the Northern Triangle countries.

Fuente: http://www.insightcrime.org/news-analysis/usaid-study-centam-community-crime-prevention

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Honduras combate la violencia con un presupuesto de $281 millones

28 de Octubre de 2014

10:49PM  –  Redacción  

La mayor parte de ese presupuesto es destinada a la Policía Nacional. Honduras tiene el segundo presupuesto más bajo de la región, según informe de Resdal.

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

En la lucha contra la violencia y criminalidad, en el 2013 Honduras tuvo un presupuesto de 281,292,483 dólares (equivalente a unos 5,786 millones de lempiras) lo cual representaba el 1.5 ciento del Producto Interno Bruto (PIB).

La Red de Seguridad y Defensa de América Latina (Resdal), en su informe del año pasado, hace un análisis sobre los gatos que los diferentes países realizan en materia de seguridad, así como la ayuda que reciben de los fondos de cooperación internacional.

A nivel del área, Honduras presenta el segundo presupuesto más bajo de la región, después de Nicaragua. Los presupuestos más grandes los tienen Panamá y Costa Rica.

Según esta organización, la exposición presupuestaria hondureña presenta en su clasificación funcional “Defensa y Seguridad” incorporando además de los recursos específicos del área de seguridad, la totalidad de los recursos de la Secretaría de Defensa y de la administración de justicia en general.

Se suma el presupuesto de instituciones como el Consejo Nacional contra el Narcotráfico, Dirección General de Migraciones y el Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (Conadeh). La mayor porción del presupuesto recae institucionalmente en la asignación a la Secretaría de Seguridad, específicamente para la Policía Nacional que concentra el 69.5 por ciento de los recursos.

Asignaciones

Resdal realiza el siguiente desglose del presupuesto de seguridad que tuvo Honduras en el 2013: Policía Nacional, 195,538,848 dólares equivalente a un 69.5%; otros (no especifica) 5,586,570 dólares, igual a dos por ciento; Secretaría del Interior en el área de Migraciones 4,763,574 dólares, que representa un 1.7%; Consejo Nacional contra el Narcotráfico 453,238 dólares, que significó un 0.2%; Bomberos 5,201,200 dólares, equivalente a un 1.8 por ciento.

En la lista también aparece la Comisión Permanente de Contingencias (Copeco) con 13,289,081 dólares, lo cual representa un 4.7%; Ministerio Público 48,454,404 dólares, que significa un 17.2%; Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (Conadeh) con 3,139,002 dólares, igual a 1.1%; Procuraduría de los Derechos Humanos con 13,651,509 dólares igual a un 1.7%; Dirección de Investigación y Evaluación de la Carrera Policial con 2,659,468 de dólares, equivalente a 1% y la Dirección Nacional de Investigación e Inteligencia con 2,207,098 dólares, lo cual representa un 0.8%, resultando de todos estos montos la cantidad de 281 millones 292 mil 483 dólares.

Acomodo

A pesar de sus limitaciones, Honduras gasta anualmente miles de millones de lempiras en la lucha contra la violencia y la criminalidad.

Según Edmundo Orellana Mercado, exfiscal general, los resultados no son positivos por la falta de una política de seguridad que sea consecuencia de un inventario de las necesidades nacionales.

A su criterio, en la lucha contra la inseguridad y en un país con muchas carencias, los presupuestos se acomodan a las circunstancias, a las limitaciones, estableciéndose las debidas relaciones e interrelaciones con los recursos de las demás instituciones.

Por ejemplo, en el tema de la seguridad preventiva, la Policía no es la única responsable, también está la Policía Municipal, y eso a nivel constitucional; asimismo, las instituciones deben tener una parte de su presupuesto para dar seguridad a los programas y proyectos que tienen, de manera que en seguridad preventiva del orden público se puede perfectamente distribuir la responsabilidad entre todas las instituciones del Estado.

En materia represiva se puede combinar los recursos como se está haciendo con las Fuerzas Armadas, y finalmente está la parte de la investigación, que es un tema que está ausente en los presupuestos de la Policía. No hay recursos para investigación, por eso es que hay tanta impunidad en el país.

En cuanto a si el país tiene suficiente presupuesto para la seguridad, mejor sería preguntarse si está eficientemente utilizado el que ha sido asignado, cuestionó Orellana.

Si usted ve a lo largo de los años desde Manuel Zelaya, se han venido asignado recursos en enormes cantidades a la Policía y eso no se ha traducido en una efectiva lucha contra la violencia y el crimen.

Creo que lo que ahí habido es una falta de control y anualmente son miles de millones de lempiras que le asignan a la Secretaría de Seguridad para prevención y represión nada más, porque la investigación prácticamente es inexistente.

El gasto de tantos millones de lempiras en la lucha contra la violencia y la criminalidad, sin resultados positivos, es producto de la falta de una política de seguridad que sea consecuencia de un inventario de las necesidades nacionales, sostuvo Orellana.

Según él, a pesar de tantos recursos asignados, en relación con la capacidad del país, la inseguridad se le fue de las manos a las autoridades por varios factores y uno de ellos es el narcotráfico, que llegó a incidir tanto en la vida nacional que muchos se aprovecharon de él: “la empresa privada, los políticos, los funcionarios, absolutamente todos porque vieron que había una fuente de recursos que no tenía que darle cuenta a nadie y que por otro lado no era perseguido”.

Así se conformaron redes que ahora son difícil de destruir porque las arterias financieras de país están alimentadas por el narcotráfico.

Ahora estas organizaciones están bien posesionadas en el mercado nacional, centroamericano y latinoamericano que será difícil destruirlas, los capturados serán sustituidos por otros, de ahí la necesidad de que el gobierno avance más allá de la simple captura de los cabecillas.

Los demás países de Centroamérica han avanzado en la lucha contra la violencia y la criminalidad porque sus autoridades no tuvieron ese contubernio que aquí hubo con el hampa, ahí no hubo ese descuido, ha habido corrupción desde luego, pero no como en el caso de Honduras, lamentó Orellana.

Cooperación

Aparte de los recursos internos, Honduras al formar parte de la Iniciativa Regional de Seguridad para Centroamérica (Carsi) recibe fondos de este programa.

Este proyecto nació en el 2008 como parte de la iniciativa Mérida (cuya finalidad era asistir contra el tráfico de drogas y el crimen organizado en México).
Carsi financia programas que incluyen desde asistencia técnica y entrenamiento hasta el fortalecimiento de las capacidades institucionales de los gobiernos y el mejoramiento de la situación económica y social de la población en general.

Es un programa de cooperación regional en seguridad entre Estados Unidos y los países de Centroamérica.

Para el 2013 los programas de financiamiento de Carsi tuvieron el énfasis puesto en la reducción de los niveles de delitos y violencia en los países de la región.

En el 2012 un monto de 30 millones de dólares fueron reprogramados para la región.

Para el 2013 Carsi requirió 600 millones de dólares para ayuda bilateral.

De la asistencia estadounidense a los países de Centroamérica durante 2011-2013, el 49 por ciento fue para Guatemala, el 0.3 por ciento para Belice, el 16 por ciento para El Salvador, el 27.4% para Honduras, el 6.4 para Nicaragua, el 0.5 para Costa Rica y el 1.5% para Panamá, según el estudio de Resdal.

Fuente: http://www.elheraldo.hn/alfrente/762567-331/honduras-combate-la-violencia-con-un-presupuesto-de-281-millones

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Transportation Strike in Tegucigalpa: Another Sign of Failure of the Honduras-US-SICA Security Strategy

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Today, the Urban Transportation Union and the Taxi Driver Association of Honduras called a general transportation strike in Tegucigalpa. The transportistas are protesting the high levels of violence and insecurity, and are demanding justice for assassinations of transportation operators that have occurred in the last few weeks.

Oscar Castillo, the President of the Taxi Driver Association of Honduras told El Heraldo, a national Honduran newspaper that taxi drivers had the moral obligation to support the bus drivers, who first initiated the strike, because violence affects the entire transportation sector. Speaking about recent deaths of transportistas, Castillo told El Heraldo, “Only us taxi drivers, they have killed 44 comrades throughout 2014, the situation that the sector is living through is unsustainable and now no one wants to work with us out of fear.”

The final straw that initiating the strike was the murder of 28-year old Javier Antonio Ortega, a driver of a small bus or rapidito as they are called in Honduras. Ortega worked on the route between the National Autonomous University (UNAH) and the neighbourhood El Carrizal and was killed on the Boulevard Fuerzas Armadas, known as the “corridor of death” because of the number of individuals working in the public transportation sector that have been killed on the road.

Traveling in public buses and collective taxis (known as colectivos) is like entering a life-death lottery. One never really knows if they will reach their final destination without being robbed, killed, deeply traumatized from seeing something horrendous or all of the above. Heck, no one is safe from potential attacks of the Military Police themselves, who shot at a passenger bus in Tegucigalpa a few weeks ago, injuring four people.

Sign reads: “Mr. President and the results of the Security Tax … when?”

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez created the Military Police and the TIGRES, yet – as the transportation sector is stating – have not improved the security situation in the country. Under the ex-President, Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo, the Honduran military were sent to the streets, and 3 years later, the homicide rate still remains one of the highest in the world.

Since the Merida Initiative was launched in 2008, and later the United States’ Central American Regional Security Strategy (CARSI) was folded into the Central American Integration System (SICA)- Central American Security Strategy (CASS), the homicide rate has skyrocketed. One of the intentions of SICA-CASS is to create safer streets and citizen security in Honduras – a goal that has not been achieved through militarizing the Honduran police, creating elite hybrid police-military units, and ‘cleaning-up’ the Honduran police.

Today’s strike of the transportation sector is another reminder of the failure of the Honduran security strategy that receives millions of dollars of support and training from the US and Canada governments.

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The child refugee crisis is a product of US-backed policies in Central America.

Escaping the New Honduras

migrants-refugees

This summer, amid an ongoing child refugee crisis, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández and First Lady Ana García Hernández traveled to the United States. Their country had descended into violent bedlam, prompting tens of thousands of children to flee. Speaking in Washington, DC before the Chamber of Congress, Hernández asserted that US drug and immigration policies were partially to blame for the surge in children heading north.

While media outlets noted the president’s remarks, they have largely failed to mention that the exodus has been fueled by the very policies Hernández and the US support — most notably the 2009 coup against Manuel Zelaya’s democratically elected government. As Dana Frank and other experts on Honduras have pointed out, this precipitated a collapse in the country’s institutions.

Corruption reached new highs; the police and military were able to act with impunity, using violent repression to crush anti-coup resistance. Femicides, political killings, and murders of those in the LGBT community spiked, yet the crimes went unpunished and were rarely even investigated. Reporterslawyers, and judges have also been targeted in the years since; police often blame the homicides on “personal enmities,” love triangles, or interpersonal disputes.

Other historically disenfranchised minorities — indigenous and African-descendant communities, and campesinos — are enduring heightened violence, as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have documented. In December 2012, the UN warned that human rights defenders “continue to be vulnerable to the risk of extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention, death threats,” and other adverse treatment.

The Honduran authorities’ response to gangs and drug cartels has at least partially been to shoot first and ask questions later. In 2012 and 2013, US coverage of the Honduran police was dominated by a series of damning Associated Press articles detailing the extrajudicial killings of gang suspects by police officers. Yet now, in the current context of the refugee crisis, Honduras’ police forces are made out to be beleaguered heroes attempting to assist the US by preventing would-be migrants from leaving the country.

Hernández has responded to police corruption by sending out thousands of new military police to patrol city streets. But as some warned shortly after deployment of the military police began ahead of last year’s elections, the new force is serving overt political ends, raiding the homes of labor leaders and of people involved in the anti-coup resistance movement. Human rights defenders and others have criticized its poor training and the Hernández administration’s evident lack of concern about the force’s rights violations.

Hernández has also pushed an array of business-friendly policies meant to encourage investment, such as new mining laws. His promotion of the proposed “model cities” has been so zealous that as president of congress he oversaw the illegal dismissal of four supreme court justices who refused to back charter city legislation. Afro-Indigenous Garifuna communities are now struggling to defend their land from tourism projects and plans for development. Some in these communities have chosen to risk their lives riding “La Bestia” (as the infamous train is known) north to the US.

Now Hernández wants to throw more gas on the fire: he advocates a “Plan Colombia” for Honduras (a proposal also supported by his hawkish think-tank hosts in Washington). But as my colleague Alexander Main has noted, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador (the other countries contributing thousands of refugees) already have such a scheme: the Central American Regional Security Initiative. In fact, CARSI emerged from the Merida Initiative, the ramped-up war on Mexican drug cartels that resulted in the deaths of over 47,000 people in just five years.

Merida has succeeded in pushing the drug cartels out of Mexico, but they’ve just migrated south to Central America — a demonstration of the “balloon effect,” in which squeezing one place means the problem pops up somewhere else. Hernández proposes a militarized solution for another US creation: gangs like the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18, which were formed in the US by earlier generations of migrants who fled US-led military and paramilitary operations in Central America.

In the current context of police death squads committing extrajudicial killings of gang suspects in urban areas, and the shootings of innocent villagers in the countryside in counternarcotics operations gone wrong, it is clear what will result from a “Plan Central America” approach. More death, more migration.

Much media attention has been paid to the forced gang recruitment that pushes children to exit Honduras, but the economic and social factors that have helped swell the ranks of gangs have been largely overlooked. It’s an open secret that the post-coup governments of Hernández and fellow National Party predecessor Pepe Lobo have presided over an economic failure. Gains made by the Zelaya government pre-coup have been undone. Child poverty, previously trending downward, has jumped. Inequality has increased and is now the highest in the region. Unemployment has risen after Lobo cut social spending.

There are policies that can diminish the power of Central American drug cartels and gangs and which would abate some of the “push” factors driving people north, but they don’t involve the ramped-up military spending championed by members of Congress. A better, more humane approach would involve poverty reduction, anti-inequality measures, and policies that foster social inclusion.

Honduras, with US support, has been going down a very different path than that since the ouster of Manuel Zelaya.

Fuente: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/09/escaping-the-new-honduras/

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We Reap What We Sow: The Link between Child Migrants and US Policy

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Written by Diego Cupolo
Friday, 01 August 2014 16:21
Seven-year-old children wandering alone through desert landscapes are the result of a long string of events that are now demanding a closer look from mainstream media and a wider audience in the United States.

“How did it get this bad?” is the phrase repeated daily by television pundits as they seek out explanations for the current immigration crisis along the U.S. border, often placing the spotlight on criminal gangs and corrupt governments in Central America.

Yet, “How did these gangs and governments come to power?” is the follow-up question largely absent from mainstream debates. In effort to guide a more accurate discussion, a growing chorus of activists, journalists and historians are pointing to U.S. foreign policy in the region as the root cause for mass migration movements in recent years – if not decades.

“Every major wave of Latino migration has been very directly connected to actions taken by the United States in Latin America to either further the country’s economic or military interests,” said Eduardo Lopez, co-director of Harvest of Empire, a film based on a book by journalist Juan Gonzalez that links immigration trends to U.S. intervention in Latin America.

From military coups that overthrew democratically-elected governments to free trade agreements that destroyed the livelihood of countless independent farmers, the U.S. had a hand in many events that shaped Central America; and the same continues today in Honduras, where the largest share of migrants have been originating from in recent months.

Over the last five years, the U.S. has funded a widely corrupt Honduran government that has only increased the nation’s record crime rates while dismantling labor rights and reducing economic opportunities, making life extremely difficult for many for its citizens, said Dana Frank, a professor of history at University of California Santa Cruz who has focused much of her research on Honduras.

“The thing that’s missing [from mainstream media coverage] is that the Honduran government itself is a terrifying, dangerous and violent government backed by the United States,” Frank said during a phone interview in July. “We’re, once again, supporting a repressive regime in Latin America and people are fleeing it. So it’s not like we can say ‘oh, that’s their problem down there.’ We are directly responsible, in part, for the ‘problem’ of Honduran kids fleeing.”

Bankrolling Impunity in Honduras

Following the illegal military coup that ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya in 2009, the United States was among the first nations to recognize the Porfirio Lobo Sosa government as a legitimate leader. Soon after, U.S. officials fostered ties with the new regime and agreed to help finance Honduran security forces in effort to fight a growing number of drug trafficking operations in the country.

Yet even with U.S. funding, violent crime skyrocketed to unprecedented levels in the years following the coup. Honduras now has a higher homicide rate than war-torn Iraq and is considered one of the most dangerous places on earth.

The reason behind the spiraling violence, Frank argued, is that Honduran gangs, police and government officials are all interlaced up to the highest levels.

“Alfredo Landaverde, a former [Honduran] congressman and police commissioner in charge of drug investigations, declared that one out of every ten members of Congress [in Honduras] is a drug trafficker and that he had evidence proving ‘major national and political figures’ were involved in drug trafficking. He was assassinated on December 7, 2011,” Frank wrote in an article for The Nation magazine.

In 2013, a Honduran government commission charged with overseeing the cleanup of security forces admitted 70 percent of the Honduran police were corrupt “beyond saving”, Frank pointed out in a recent article for The Huffington Post.

Regardless of this widespread and documented corruption, Frank found the U.S. sent $27 million to Honduran security forces in 2012, followed by $25 million in 2013, while the U.S. is now preparing to send an additional $18.5 million to “to support community policing and law enforcement efforts” in 2014.

“We’re basically rewarding this government,” Frank said. “They drive their children out and we give them even more money.”

To date, the U.S. has sent nearly $100 million to Honduras to help clean up the police force, with seemingly no effect, Frank said, and little is likely to change after the elections in January. Current President Juan Orlando Hernández, was inaugurated on the promise that he would use funds to further militarize security forces and “put a soldier on every corner” in order to deter criminal activity.

“The answer is not further militarization,” Frank said. “Hondurans are telling me the military presence, including the terrifying new military police, is greater now than during the 1980s, during the Reagan era.  This militarization is very dangerous. It is really about intimidating the population and any opposition.”

Citing a recent example, Frank said Hernández’s new military police – now 5,000 strong – surrounded the Honduran hall of congress on May 13, 2014 to tear-gas, beat up, and eject 36 congressmembers from the center-left opposition party, LIBRE. The move was carried out with complete impunity, both from the Honduran and U.S. governments.

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, met with President Hernández a few weeks later to reaffirm continued U.S. military support for the Honduran government through a program known as the Central American Regional Security Innitiative (CARSI), disregarding the recent anti-democratic events.

“Yes, gangs are rampant in Honduras,” Frank wrote on The Huffington Post. “But the truly dangerous gang is the Honduran government. And our tax dollars are pouring into it while our top officials praise its virtues.”

Lessons from El Salvador

The U.S. financing of corrupt security forces is nothing new in Central America. From Guatemala to Panama, armed militias have terrorized political opponents, union organizers and the civilian population at large since the region claimed independence from Spain in the early-1800s.

A well-documented example includes the U.S.-funded Contra militias that attacked Nicaragua’s revolutionary party between 1979-1990 and devastated the nation’s economy to the point where it now stands as the second-poorest country in the Americas.

During that same period, the Salvadoran government unleashed death squads to exterminate thousands of dissidents with U.S. financial support. These militias were ordered to quell all forms of opposition to the oligarchic government in El Salvador and made international headlines in 1980 with the assassination of San Salvador’s Archbishop Oscar Romero, a fierce critic of the violent regime, as well as the murder four American Catholic nuns, who were raped and buried with their panties stuffed into their mouths by soldiers operation under U.S. tax dollars.

In response to the violence, “Washington quickly turned El Salvador into the biggest recipient of American military aid in Latin America,” wrote Juan Gonzalez in Harvest of Empire. “Seventy percent of the record $3.7 billion the Unites States pumped into El Salvador from 1981 to 1989 went for weapons and war assistance. As the number of weapons in the country escalated, so did the number of Salvadorans fleeing the devastation those weapons caused.”

Eduardo Lopez, a Salvadoran and co-director of the Harvest of Empire film, recounted his country’s modern history during a phone conversation in July and traced the rise of Salvadoran immigration to the nation’s civil war.

“El Salvador is the smallest country in all of the Americas, aside from islands, and in 1980 there were fewer than 100,000 Salvadorans in the United States, according to the Census,” he said. “Today, just a little over three decades later, there are nearly 2 million Salvadorans in the United States and again, according to the Census, Salvadorans have already surpassed the number of Cuban-Americans and we have become the third largest Latino nationality in the United States. How could something like this happen?”

“If the conservative argument was right,” he continued. “And the majority of Latino immigrants were coming to take advantage of social services or they were just trying to simply escape difficult conditions at home then we would’ve always had a large migration from El Salvador, because El Salvador has always been a country beset by very great problems with poverty and corruption in the government. But that was not the case, that’s not what happened.”

“What we see today is El Salvador, like Honduras and Guatemala, is trying to deal with the terrible legacy of violence that the United States left in its wake,” Lopez said.

Free Trade and the “Failed State”

Violence is not the only issue driving Central Americans to the United States. There is also a lack of sustainable job opportunities for the majority of citizens in the region, Frank said.

The signing of both the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) forced independent farmers south of Rio Grande to compete with low-priced corn and food commodities from agribusiness corporations, which received subsidies from the U.S. government. The farmers simply could not afford to lower their prices to match the subsidized products and went out of business. The end result has been bankruptcy for many rural families, along with the creation of mass migration patterns to urban centers and, eventually, across borders.

In Honduras, government officials have worked to dismantle basic labor rights since the 2009 coup, Frank said. Their actions have lowered wages for workers in effort to attract foreign investment, which have since prompted the AFL-CIO to file a complaint to the US Labor Department for unfair labor practices. Yet Frank said the assault on worker’s rights goes far beyond minimum wage.

“In November 2010 a law went into effect encouraging employers to convert permanent, full-time jobs into part-time and temporary employment—under which workers will no longer be eligible for healthcare and will lose the right to organize a union,” Frank wrote in The Nation magazine.

“Perhaps most extreme,” Frank continued. “Is a new ‘Model Cities’ law, passed in July [2011], which allows for autonomous economic zones in which the Honduran Constitution, legal code and most basic democratic governance structures won’t apply, and where transnational investors will be free to invent their own entire society.”

At the same time, the Honduran government has cut spending for public housing, health care and education, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Citing worsening economic prospects for the general population along with the rampant crime levels in Honduras, some analysts have said the country is on the verge of becoming a “failed state,” yet Frank said she disagrees with the term during our phone interview.

“I don’t use that term because I think the state is extremely functional for many interests,” she said. “Who profits from this? U.S. corporations are profiting. Mining, hydroelectric and agribusiness corporations are all profiting from this. The US is expanding its military presence in the country. Many actors are profiting from this.”

“Obviously, the drug traffickers are profiting from [this, as well],” she continued. “[Also] the Honduran oligarchic families that own most of the assets in the country – 90 percent of its wealth. They control almost all the television stations. They control all the newspapers. They are raking it in. They are robbing the country blind … the state is not failing them, it’s actually serving these dangerous oligarchs well.”

Reaping the ‘Harvest of Empire’

Lack of security, lack of opportunities, and lack of accountability for those in power – all with continued support from U.S. officials and corporations.

Counter to common portrayal of immigrants in mainstream media, Lopez said Latinos are not crossing into the United States to fulfill ‘The American Dream’ with aspirations of permanent residence. Rather, their countries have become uninhabitable and they have no choice other than to seek refuge elsewhere as they wait for conditions to improve back home.

“Immigration is incredibly difficult experience,” Lopez said. “Being ripped away from your family, from your children, from your language, from your culture and having to adapt to a culture that’s very different, to a language you don’t know, to an environment that’s fairly hostile. This is an incredibly difficult life experience.”

“I believe that many, many immigrants would prefer to stay in their home country,” he continued. “But again, the conditions that U.S. corporations and U.S. military make in Latin America make that [option] impossible.”

Disturbed by the language used to describe immigration in mainstream debates and the general misunderstanding of its root causes, Lopez spent seven years to co-direct his film with the hope of informing audiences on the link between foreign policy and immigration.

“As we’ve seen from history, almost always [the U.S.] takes foreign policy decisions to favor our large corporations and it works great, the corporations make billions of dollars, but again, the unintended consequence is migration,” Lopez said. “When you look at it that way, you understand the national conversation on immigration has to be much more humane [and less] punitive.”

“Tragically, all I hear in our national talk on immigration is punitive, is trying to punish these immigrants, but the reality is that the immigrant is the least powerful player in this situation,” he added.

Lopez said the lack of progress on U.S. immigration reform has also exacerbated the problem. When a migrant crosses through the barren desert terrain along U.S. border to find work and send back remittances, they are often reluctant to endure the trek a second time out of safety concerns, creating a situation where many become stuck in the U.S. without the ability to return home.

Immobilized and faced with worsening economic prospects in their countries, many undocumented workers see few options other than to pay exorbitant prices to one of countless human smuggling operations and have their relatives guided across the U.S. border, regardless of how old they may be.

“So many parents and close relatives of the minors that are now at the border have been waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting for immigration reform to happen,” Lopez said. “And now [they] have come to the terrible realization that Republicans have refused to pass any kind of immigration reform and that they are looking at many more years of separation from their children.”

“When you tell parents, ‘You’ve been separated from your children for 4 years, why don’t you wait 5 more?’ Well, what is a parent supposed to do?” Lopez asked.

As Central American children continue streaming into detention centers along the U.S. border, government officials in Washington are confronted with the consequences of their own decisions. By supporting corrupt governments and unsustainable economic models, the U.S. has helped create conditions so horrendous, the United Nations claimed most child migrants qualify for refugee status and should not be sent back home.

Today, just as in the past, the problems fostered south of the Rio Grande can only be ignored until they come knocking at the nation’s doorstep. This time they arrive in the form of unaccompanied minors. What comes next remains to be seen.

Fuente: http://upsidedownworld.org/main/international-archives-60/4965-we-reap-what-we-sow-the-link-between-child-migrants-and-us-policy

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Presidents Call for US to Invest in CentAm Version of ‘Plan Colombia’

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez called for US aid Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez called for US aid

The presidents of Guatemala and Honduras have used the Central American child migrant crisis to call for regional security investment from the United States along the lines of “Plan Colombia,” but as yet there have been few signs of US interest in such a plan.

At a forum in Washington DC on July 24, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina stated that the United States is partly to blame for the current migration crisis, which has seen over 50,000 Central American children cross the US border illegally in recent months, and asked for a regional security initiative to combat organized crime, reported NPR.

Hernandez said Plan Colombia and Mexico‘s Merida Initiative — billion-dollar US funded security programs to combat organized crime — have been successful in their target areas, but pushed drug trafficking groups into Central America, reported Prensa Libre. Both presidents called for a similar program to be implemented in Central America, adding that the impact of the US funded Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) has been minimal.

Hernandez and Perez both stated that violence and poverty are behind the recent flood of unaccompanied child migrants across the US border, a problem they are scheduled to discuss with the US and El Salvadoran presidents today.

InSight Crime Analysis

While Hernandez and Perez are trying to use the child migrant crisis as leverage to gain an increase in foreign aid, the US government’s response has shown its priorities lie elsewhere.

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama requested $3.7 billion from Congress in emergency funding to deal with the migration crisis, of which $1.5 billion was slated for the Department of Homeland Security — which oversees border security — compared to $300 million for programs in Central America and Mexico.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Plan Colombia

Meanwhile, CARSI has cost the US government only $642 million over the past six years, compared to an estimated $90 billion spent on border security between 2001 and 2011.

The US government has also invested billions in aid for Colombia, and more recently Mexico. However, the success of these plans within the countries is not as clear cut as their backers claim. In addition, it will take a lot more than increased investment to tackle deep rooted issues that have helped organized crime take hold in the region, such as poverty and lack of opportunities and official corruption.

Fuente: http://www.insightcrime.org/news-briefs/presidents-call-for-us-to-invest-in-central-american-version-of-plan-colombia

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Que EEUU termine de financiar la Guerra contra las Drogas y al régimen corrupto de Honduras

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Los desgarradores relatos que emanan de los centros de detención para inmigrantes ubicados en la frontera de EEUU han figurado en las noticias últimamente, con mucha razón. Sin embargo los medios masivos han ignorado en gran parte las verdaderas lecciones que se desprenden del número creciente de menores, no acompañados, detenidos en la misma frontera.

Esta llamada “crisis humanitaria” no es causada por la naturaleza criminal de la población de América Central, o porque se trate de padres y madres irresponsables, o porque los menores busquen perseguir el estereotipo del  “sueño americano”. Los menores de edad y sus familias están llegando a los EEUU para poder sobrevivir. En el fondo, con demasiada frecuencia intentan huir de las devastadoras consecuencias de la política exterior de los EEUU en la región, tanto del pasado como del presente.

El número de menores de edad que ha intentado atravesar la frontera e ingresar en los EEUU ha aumentado de manera dramática en los últimos cinco años. Durante el año 2009, alrededor de 6.000 menores no acompañados fueron detenidos cerca de la frontera. Cálculos respetables estiman que el Departamento de Seguridad Interior (Department of Homeland Security DHS) habría detenido hasta 74.000 menores no acompañados a finales del año 2014.

Alrededor del 28% de los menores detenidos este año procedía de Honduras, 24% de Guatemala y 21% de El Salvador. Los aumentos  tan severos de la migración desde Honduras son un resultado directo del golpe dirigido por egresados de la Escuela de las Américas, sucedido el 28 de junio del 2009. Las abusivas políticas formuladas por los regímenes de Honduras, a partir de entonces, y el vergonzoso apoyo de los EEUU a estos gobiernos corruptos surgidos tras los cuestionados procesos electorales de 2009 y 2013.

Desde el 2008, los EEUU han desembolsado más de 800 millones de dolares en ayuda para la seguridad hacia Honduras, Guatemala y El Salvador, a través de la “Iniciativa para la seguridad regional de América Central” (Central American Regional Security Initiative CARSI), además de millones de dólares más en ayuda militar y policial a cada país individual.

La actual crisis humanitaria en la frontera es el resultado directo de una drástica militarización de la guerra contra las drogas, liderada por los EEUU, relaciones económicas desequilibradas (e.g. los Tratados de libre comercio que han devastado las comunidades campesinas) y el apoyo de los EEUU al gobierno de post-golpe de Honduras, infiltrado por los carteles de la droga.

Utilizando cualquier medida que se quiera utilizar – la disponibilidad de las drogas, las encarcelaciones masivas, la detención masiva de inmigrantes, y el uso eficaz del dinero de los impuestos en los EEUU; las tasas de homicidios y de violencia, la corrupción, el poder omnipresente de los carteles de la droga, y las tasas de migración en América Central – la “guerra contra las drogas” ha demostrado ser un fracaso.

Es tiempo ya de que el gobierno de los EEUU asuma su verdadera responsabilidad por el papel que ha representado en las causas profundas de la migración desde América Central. La región nunca será “curada” de los males que la aquejan sin una re-evaluación basada en los hechos, honesta, y como consecuencia de ello una re-implementación de la política exterior estadounidense.

Los patrones de violencia y migración forzosa establecidos durante las guerras sucias del Siglo 20 han persistido incólumes. No es sorprendente que los menores de edad centroamericanos emprendan solos el viaje a los EEUU para escapar de la violencia, sobre todo si uno de sus padres o ambos ya residen allí.

Una creciente militarización bajo el pretexto de ser una guerra contra las drogas ha dado como resultado violaciones masivas de los derechos humanos,  incluyendo la apropiación ilegal de tierras, y la persecución de líderes indígenas y comunitarios, con demasiada frecuencia a manos de militares y policías financiados y entrenados bajo programas de seguridad estadounidenses (muchas veces en la Escuela de las Américas).

En Honduras en particular, la situación se ha ido deteriorando dramáticamente, y sin embargo los EEUU continúa financiando a las fuerzas de seguridad de Honduras, brutales y corruptas, cinco años después del golpe militar del 28 de junio de 2009, llevado a cabo por egresados de la Escuela de las Américas. ¿Por qué tiene que seguir sufriendo la población de Centromérica, y por qué tiene que seguir siendo utilizada como chivo expiatorio, cuando las causas profundas de la migración son creadas con demasiada frecuencia por las políticas exteriores de los EEUU tan perjudiciales?

Fuente: http://www.defensoresenlinea.com/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3223:que-eeuu-termine-de-financiar-la-guerra-contra-las-drogas-y-al-regimen-corrupto-de-honduras&catid=42:seg-y-jus&Itemid=159

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¿Quién es el responsable de la huida de los niños hondureños?

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Dana Frank

Dana Frank

De pronto, todos los ojos están sobre los 47.000 menores no acompañados por adultos que procedentes de América Central han sido interceptados en la frontera de los EE.UU. desde principios de este año, el mayor número de los cuales provienen de Honduras. Con toda razón, la mayoría de los debates han puesto de relieve que las pandillas y la violencia son la causa inmediata de su huida.

Sin embargo, en esta discusión sobre Honduras no aparece el régimen post-golpe de Estado que rige el país, que es en gran parte responsable de la gran criminalidad que ha sobrepasado el país. Igualmente ausente es la responsabilidad del Gobierno de los Estados Unidos con este régimen. Sí, las pandillas están fuera de control en Honduras. Pero la pandilla verdaderamente peligrosa es el gobierno de Honduras. Y los dólares de nuestros impuestos  se están vertiendo en él, mientras que nuestros altos funcionarios alaban sus virtudes.

Este 28 de junio se cumplió el quinto aniversario del golpe militar que depuso al presidente de Honduras democráticamente electo Manuel Zelaya. Desde entonces, una serie de administraciones corruptas ha desatado un control criminal abierto de Honduras, de arriba a abajo del gobierno. El actual presidente Juan Orlando Hernández, quien asumió el cargo en enero, era él mismo un entusiasta partidario del golpe de Estado, los informes del Congreso de Honduras establecen que en 2012 llevó a la expulsión ilegal de cuatro miembros de la Corte Suprema y el nombramiento ilegal de un nuevo Fiscal General para un mandato de cinco años.

La policía de Honduras es mayoritariamente corrupta, opera en estrecha colaboración con el narcotráfico y el crimen organizado. En agosto pasado, incluso una comisión del gobierno hondureño que supervisa la depuración de la policía admitió que el 70 por ciento de la policía está “más allá de poder rescatarla.” InSight Crime concluye: “una serie de poderosos grupos locales, conectados a las élites políticas y de la economía … manejan la mayor parte de las actividades del hampa en el país.  Ellos han penetrado profundamente la policía hondureña.”

La respuesta de Hernández a la corrupción de la policía, sin embargo, ha sido la militarización peligrosa. No sólo el ejército regular ahora patrullan los barrios residenciales, aeropuertos y cárceles, pero la nueva fuerza de  5.000 efectivos  de la policía militar de Hernández va expandiéndose en todo el país. El poder judicial y los fiscales a menudo son corruptos también. El Informe del Departamento de Derechos Humanos del Estado de los EE.UU. para el año 2013 en Honduras habla de “impunidad generalizada”, causada por un sistema de justicia débil. “Los autores de asesinatos y otros crímenes violentos rara vez son llevados ante la justicia”, informa la orgaización Human Rights Watch. Como resultado, después del golpe Honduras ahora cuenta con la tasa de homicidios más alta del mundo, según cifras de las Naciones Unidas.

Peor aún, la policía y los propios militares matan y golpean a las personas con impunidad. La organización Human Rights Watch ha documentado numerosas denuncias de asesinatos de activistas de los derechos de la tierra por parte de fuerzas de seguridad, e informa que “la impunidad de los graves abusos de la policía es un problema crónico.” Hasta el pasado mes de diciembre, el jefe nacional de la policía fue Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla, quien de acuerdo con documentos obtenidos por la Associated Press (AP), participó en los asesinatos de muerte en el período 1998-2002. Más recientemente la AP ha documentado al menos cinco presuntos asesinatos de los escuadrones de la muerte por la policía hondureña. El 13 de mayo, los nuevos policías militares rodearon, gasearon y  golpearon brutalmente, y expulsaron por la fuerza de la sala principal del congreso a 36 congresistas del partido de centro-izquierda de la oposición LIBRE.

Al mismo tiempo, el gobierno post-golpe de Estado está destruyendo rápidamente gran parte de lo que queda de la economía hondureña. En los dos años siguientes al golpe, 2010-12, el gasto en vivienda pública, la salud y la educación se redujo, según el Centro para la Investigación Económica y Política (Center for Economic and Policy Research), mientras que la pobreza extrema se incrementó en 26,3 por ciento. “A través de las privatizaciones neoliberales, recortes y reorganizaciones que están acabando con empleos sindicalizados del sector público”, observa German Zepeda, Secretario General de la Federación de Honduras de Trabajadores Agroindustriales. En mayo, por ejemplo, todo el organismo encargado de los asuntos de la infancia fue eliminado y todos sus activos liquidados. La AFL-CIO reporta que las leyes laborales raramente se cumplen, los asesinatos y amenazas contra sindicalistas no son investigados, y un programa del sector privado, “la creación de puestos de trabajo” tan pregonado rompe el tiempo completo, el empleo permanente y lo convierte en un trabajo precario a tiempo parcial, eliminando el acceso al sistema de salud pública y la elegibilidad para la sindicalización, junto con un salario digno.

En este escenario global, los niños de hecho mueren. Con pocos puestos de trabajo y sin un sistema de justicia penal eficaz, las pandillas verdaderamente aterradoras han proliferado, y el tráfico de drogas engendra violencia espectacular, incluyendo múltiples masacres de niños en abril y mayo divulgadas en todos los medios. Según Casa Alianza, la organización independiente que lidera y aboga por los niños sin hogar en Honduras, solo en el mes de mayo 2014, 104 jóvenes fueron asesinados; entre 2010 y 2013, 458 niños menores  de 14 años fueron asesinados.

El 6 de mayo, José Guadalupe Ruelas, director de Casa Alianza, denunció que la policía están operando operar “limpieza social” escuadrones de la muerte matando a los niños.

Dos días más tarde, su coche parado fue embestido por un vehículo de seguridad del gobierno y fue brutalmente golpeado y arrestado por la policía militar, según Amnistía Internacional (Amnesty International).

Sin embargo, a pesar de la abrumadora evidencia, el gobierno de EE.UU. sigue apoyando, incluso celebrando el régimen. Dos días después de que los policías militares atacaron a los miembros de la oposición en el Congreso, la Embajadora de  EE.UU. Lisa Kubiske elogió sin rodeos al presidente Hernández, alabó los TIGRES – una peligrosa nueva unidad de fuerzas especiales que ha promovido – y dijo que los EE.UU. quiere invertir “más y más en la policía hondureña”.  El Comandante John Kelley del Comando Sur de EE.UU., al visitar Honduras el 19 de mayo, elogió Hernández por su “impresionante” y exitoso trabajo contra los narcotraficantes. Ahora, como una respuesta a la afluencia de los menores no acompañados en la frontera, la Casa Blanca ha autorizado $ 8,5 millones en fondos adicionales para la corrupta policía hondureña.

Los EE.UU. está vertiendo ciertamente fondos a la policía hondureña y los militares, en nombre de la lucha contra el tráfico de drogas. Las cifras exactas no están disponibles, pero de acuerdo con el Servicio de Investigación del Congreso aproximadamente $ 25 millones fluyeron a las fuerzas de seguridad de Honduras en 2013. Otros fondos de Estados Unidos apoyan las fuerzas hondureñas a través de USAID, el Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo, y la Iniciativa Regional Centroamericana de Seguridad (CARSI).

Al mismo tiempo, las políticas de los Estados Unidos están contribuyendo directamente a la destrucción de la economía hondureña – de ahí la falta de puestos de trabajo viables. El Tratado de Libre Comercio de América Central (CAFTA), por ejemplo, ha obligado a los pequeños y medianos productores a competir con la agroindustria EE.UU. y otras corporaciones. En Honduras como en otros lugares, las políticas neoliberales impuestas por el Fondo financiado por Estados Unidos Monetario Internacional (FMI) y el Banco Mundial promueven la eliminación de puestos de trabajo del sector público, la privatización y la reducción de los servicios sociales un comunicado fechado el 13 de junio del Directorio Ejecutivo del FMI, por ejemplo,  aboga por  “la reducción de la masa salarial” del gobierno hondureño.

El Congreso de los EE.UU., sin embargo, ha desafiado en voz alta y claramente la política de EE.UU. El 28 de mayo, 108 miembros del Congreso, encabezados por la congresista Janice Schakowsky (D-Illinois), enviaron una carta al Secretario de Estado John Kerry cuestionando el apoyo de EE.UU. para el régimen. La Ley de Asignaciones Consolidadas de 2014 coloca los derechos humanos como condicionante en una parte sustancial de la asistencia de los EE.UU. a las fuerzas de seguridad hondureñas.

Mientras los jóvenes hondureños corren el riesgo de peligros espectaculares al cruzar las fronteras para tratar de escapar del horror de su país, los EE.UU. debe asumir la responsabilidad de esa pesadilla, y cortar sus lazos con las pandillas de los oligarcas que gobiernan Honduras, dejar de verter fondos en sus policías y militares incluidos los fondos para la capacitación de la policía.  Al mismo tiempo, tenemos que tratar a los niños que llegan con gran cuidado y respeto, que se observen los procedimientos legalmente establecidos. Tenemos que darles abogados, permitir a los observadores independientes inspeccionar todas las instalaciones en las quelos retienen, y si sus padres están aquí, hacer todo lo posible para reunirlos con sus familias en los EE.UU.

Fuente: http://www.defensoresenlinea.com/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3221:iquien-es-el-responsable-de-la-huida-de-los-ninos-hondurenos&catid=67:monitoreo&Itemid=192

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Editorial y Portada EL LIBERTADOR impreso julio de 2014

“La sociedad del desencanto que nos toca habitar a los hondureños del presente, sólo puede aspirar a mayor engaño y éxodo con un ejército que ejecuta golpes de Estado, que no se identifica con la angustia de la mayor parte de la población, no le importa, la ve y la trata como enemiga, precisamente porque está instruido por Estados Unidos para no tomar partida en la lucha de su propio pueblo, sino, en si sólo si, el guardia feroz del capital “buitre” nacional y transnacional”.

EDITORIAL

Mala compañía

Que Honduras rompa relaciones militares con Estados Unidos, por ahora, siquiera imaginarlo, es tan iluso, como no comprender que el romance guerrero junto a la indigencia, la corrupción y la violencia son capítulos de la novela de dominación económica, actuada por la elite hondureña para cuidar los intereses estadounidenses y aplazar la construcción de un proyecto político patriota que movilice riqueza social y conciencia de nación.

“El Informe de Verdad”, que fue publicado en octubre de 2012, representa una arquitectura profunda de los detonantes y actores del golpe de Estado, en la página 300, recomienda al pueblo y gobierno de Honduras: “Poner fin a los acuerdos militares y de seguridad con el gobierno de los Estados Unidos de América. El Estado debe cerrar las bases militares existentes y proyectadas. Poner fin a los operativos conjuntos y programas de entrenamiento y equipamiento y cualquier otra injerencia de fuerzas militares y de seguridad extranjeras”.

No son cualquiera quienes concluyeron que es inviable un Estado de Derecho con la compañía de Estados Unidos, en función que es irrefutable que sus estrategias de control geopolítico regional son la causa vertebral de inseguridad en nuestro territorio y dinámica social. La relación militar con la nación del norte daña, destruyó la institucionalidad del país e imposibilita un modelo nacional estable, al contrario, es el fermento de todo mal, de política y políticos corruptos, fraude electoral, atraso, sumisión, crimen y violencia.

La sociedad del desencanto que nos toca habitar a los hondureños del presente, sólo puede aspirar a mayor engaño y éxodo con un ejército que ejecuta golpes de Estado, que no se identifica con la angustia de la mayor parte de la población, no le importa, la ve y la trata como enemiga, precisamente porque está instruido por Estados Unidos para no tomar partida en la lucha de su propio pueblo, sino, en si sólo si, el guardia feroz del capital “buitre” nacional y transnacional.

Vemos con cierto aturdimiento en un ligero viaje por el resto de países de Centroamérica que esa ciudadanía va por la calle respirando un ambiente mucho más relajado que el hondureño, y qué decir, de naciones como Ecuador y Bolivia, uno impulsa el “sueño ecuatoriano”, atrás dejó el mal recuerdo de gobiernos fatales, y los bolivianos que hace veinte años cargaban indicadores económicos y sociales terribles muy parecidos o peores que los de Honduras, provocados por politicastros militaristas y charlatanes, hoy, con el mandato del Presidente Evo Morales ya instalaron su propio satélite en el espacio, están venciendo la pobreza, el rezago de siglos va cediendo y evolucionan hacia uno de los países más dignos y con mayor desarrollo en Suramérica.

En todas las naciones de América Latina incluyendo a Venezuela, Cuba y Costa Rica, los cambios estructurales a favor de sus pueblos accedieron y los lastres del subdesarrollo fueron siendo derrotados a medida que eliminaron sus ejércitos como los costarricenses después de un golpe de Estado, o cuando surgieron patriotas dispuestos a blindar su respaldo a auténticos gobiernos populares.

Honduras y su pueblo no tendrán Estado de bonanza firmando programas de “austeridad” que han agotado el bolsillo de la familia hondureña para complacer al FMI, o cerrando puertas a universitarios para promocionar palurdos militares de cerro.

Fuente: http://www.ellibertador.hn/?q=article/editorial-y-portada-el-libertador-impreso-julio-de-2014

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Who’s Responsible for the Flight of Honduran Children?

Posted: 07/09/2014 7:56 am EDT Updated: 07/09/2014 7:59 am EDT

Suddenly, all eyes are on the 47,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America who have been apprehended at the U.S. border since the beginning of this year, the largest number of whom are from Honduras. Quite rightly, most discussions have underscored that gangs and violence are the immediate cause of their flight.

Missing from the discussion about Honduras, though, is the post-coup regime governing the country that is largely responsible for the vast criminality that has overtaken it. Equally absent is the responsibility of the United States Government for the regime. Yes, gangs are rampant in Honduras. But the truly dangerous gang is the Honduran government. And our own tax dollars are pouring into it while our top officials praise its virtues.

This June 28 marks the fifth anniversary of the military coup that deposed democratically-elected Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. Since then, a series of corrupt administrations has unleashed open criminal control of Honduras, from top to bottom of the government. Current President Juan Orlando Hernández, who entered office in January, was himself an enthusiastic supporter of the coup, reports from the Honduran congress establish, and in 2012 led the illegal 2012 ejection of four members of the Supreme Court and the illegal naming of a new attorney general to a five-year term.

The Honduras police are overwhelmingly corrupt, working closely with drug traffickers and organized crime. Last August, even a Honduran government commission overseeing a cleanup of the police force admitted that 70 percent of the police are “beyond saving.” InSight Crime concludes: “a series of powerful local groups, connected to political and economy elites…manage most of the underworld activities in the country. They have deeply penetrated the Honduran police.”

Hernández’s answer to police corruption, though, has been dangerous militarization. Not only does the regular military now patrol residential neighborhoods, airports, and prisons, but Hernández’s new 5,000-strong military police force is fanning out across the country. The judiciary and prosecutors are often corrupt as well. The U.S. Department of State’s Human Rights Report for 2013 on Honduras speaks of “widespread impunity” caused by a weak justice system. “Perpetrators of killings and other violent crimes are rarely brought to justice,” reports Human Rights Watch. As a result, post-coup Honduras now boasts the highest murder rate in the world, according to United Nations figures.

Worse, the police and military themselves kill and beat people with impunity. Human Rights Watch has documented widespread allegations of killings of land rights activists by security forces, and reports that “impunity for serious police abuses is a chronic problem.” Until last December, the national chief of police was Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla, who according to documents obtained by the Associated Press (AP) participated in death killings in 1998-2002. More recently AP has documented at least five alleged death squad killings by the Honduran police. On May 13, the new military police surrounded, tear gassed, brutally beat up, and forcibly ejected from the main hall of congress all 36 congressmembers of the center-left opposition party LIBRE.

At the same time, the post-coup government is rapidly destroying much of what is left of the Honduran economy. In the two years following the coup, 2010-12, spending on public housing, health, and education all dropped, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, while extreme poverty rose by 26.3 percent. “Through neoliberal privatizations, cutbacks, and reorganizations they’re wiping out unionized public sector jobs,” observes German Zepeda, Secretary-General of Honduras’ Federation of Agroindustrial Workers. In May, for example, the entire agency charged with children’s interests was eliminated and all its asset liquidated. The AFL-CIO reports that labor laws are rarely enforced, assassinations and threats against trade unionists are not investigated, and a much-touted private-sector “jobs creation” program breaks apart full-time, permanent jobs into part-time precarious ones, eliminating access to the public health system and eligibility for unionization, along with a living wage.

In this overall scenario, children indeed die. With few jobs and without a functioning criminal justice system, truly terrifying gangs have proliferated, and drug trafficking engenders spectacular violence, including multiple massacres of children in April and May splayed all over the papers. According to Casa Alianza, the leading independent advocate for homeless children in Honduras, in May 2014 alone 104 young people were killed; between 2010 and 2013, 458 children 14 or younger were assassinated.

On May 6, José Guadalupe Ruelas, the director of Casa Alianza, charged that police are operating operate “social cleansing” death squads killing children.

Two days later, stationary car was rammed by a government security vehicle and he was brutally beaten and arrested by the military police, according to Amnesty International.

Yet despite overwhelming evidence, the U.S. government continues to support, even celebrate the regime. Two days after the military police attacked the opposition members in congress, U.S. Ambassador Lisa Kubiske baldly praised President Hernández, lauded the TIGRES — a dangerous new special forces unit he has promoted–and said that the U.S. wants to invest “more and more in the Honduran police.” Commander John Kelley of the U.S. Southern Command, visiting Honduras on May 19, praised Hernández for his “impressive” and successful work against drug traffickers. Now, as a response to the influx of unaccompanied minors at the border, the White House has authorized $18.5 million in additional funds for the corrupt Honduran police.

The U.S. is indeed pouring funds into the Honduran police and military, in the name of fighting drug trafficking. Exact figures are unavailable, but according to the Congressional Research Service approximately $25 million flowed to Honduran security forces in 2013. Other U.S. funds support Honduran forces through USAID, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI).

At the same time, U.S. policies are contributing directly to the destruction of the Honduran economy — hence the lack of viable jobs. The Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), for example, has forced small and medium-sized producers to compete with U.S. agribusiness and other corporations. In Honduras as elsewhere, neoliberal policies enforced through the U.S.-funded International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank promote the elimination of public-sector jobs, privatization, and the reduction of social services A June 13 statement from the IMF Executive Board, for example, advocates “reducing the wage bill” of the Honduran government.

The U.S. Congress, though, is loudly and clearly challenging U.S. policy. On May 28, 108 Members of Congress, led by Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-Illinois), sent a letter to Secretary Kerry questioning U.S. support for the regime. The 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act places human rights conditions on a substantial chunk of U.S. to Honduran security forces.

As young Hondurans risk spectacular dangers crossing borders to try to escape their country’s horror, the U.S. should take responsibility for that nightmare, and cut its ties with gang of oligarchs running Honduras, stop pouring funds into their police and military-including funds for police training. At the same time we need to treat the arriving children with vast care and respect, observing legally mandated procedures. We need to provide them with lawyers, allow independent observers to inspect all facilities in which are held, and, if their parents are here make every effort to reunite them with their families in the U.S.

Fuente: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-frank/whos-responsible-for-the-honduras_b_5530518.html

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SOUTHCOM chief: Central America drug war a dire threat to U.S. national security

Jul. 8, 2014 – 06:00AM   |
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Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly (Cpl. Tia Dufour/Marine Corps)

After observing the transnational organized crime network for 19 months as commander of U.S. Southern Command, I see the only viable approach is to work as closely as we can with as many nations in the region. Our vision is of an economically integrated region that offers reasons for its people to build their futures at home instead of risking the dangerous and ultimately futile journey north. A region that offers economic opportunity, effective democratic institutions and governance, and safe communities is the key to their future and to our national security.

Drug cartels and associated street gang activity in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, which respectively have the world’s number one, four and five highest homicide rates, have left near-broken societies in their wake. Although there are a number of other countries I work with in Latin America and the Caribbean that are going in the same direction, the so-called Northern Triangle (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras) is far and away the worst off.

By U.N. statistics, Honduras is the most violent nation on the planet with a rate of 90 murders per 100,000 citizens. Guatemala’s rate is 40. These figures become more shocking when compared to those of declared combat zones such as Afghanistan or the Democratic Republic of the Congo (28 in 2012). Profits earned via the illicit drug trade have corrupted and destroyed public institutions in these countries, and facilitated a culture of impunity — regardless of crime — that delegitimizes the state and erodes its sovereignty, not to mention what it does to human rights.

All this corruption and violence is directly or indirectly due to the insatiable U.S. demand for drugs, particularly cocaine, heroin and now methamphetamines, all produced in Latin America and smuggled into the U.S. along an incredibly efficient network along which anything — hundreds of tons of drugs, people, terrorists, potentially weapons of mass destruction or children — can travel so long as they can pay the fare. There are some in officialdom who argue that not 100 percent of the violence today is due to the drug flow to the U.S., and I agree, but I would say that perhaps 80 percent of it is.

More to the point, however, it has been the malignant effects of immense drug trafficking through these nonconsumer nations that is responsible for accelerating the breakdown in their national institutions of human rights, law enforcement, courts, and eventually their entire society as evidenced today by the flow of children north and out of the conflictive transit zone. The human rights groups I deal with tell me young women and even the little girls sent north by hopeful parents are molested and raped by traffickers. Many in these same age groups join the 17,500 the U.N. reports come into the U.S. every year to work in the sex trade.

Clearly a region that is stable, safe and secure for its own citizens with a functioning legal justice system and police force, with an emerging middle class and real human rights opportunity, is what we want for these nations and is in our national security interests. Colombia is the present-day example of what should be and could be. If these nations were moving in this direction, they would be even stronger and more reliable partners. What is ironic to me is with all their problems they are still functioning democracies and appear to want to stay that way.

SOUTHCOM’s efforts in the region are in large part focused on stemming the flow of illegal narcotics, although we have remarkable relationships with all our interagency partners. Heroic and often underappreciated law enforcement professionals like the DEA, FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol and Treasury Department have numerous efforts focused on countering transnational organized crime in SOUTHCOM’s assigned area of responsibility. We also have amazing relationships with every political and military official worthy of our attention, and very good mil-to-mil relationships even in nations that pull back from us politically.

The primary facilitator of this task is Joint Interagency Task Force South, which is responsible for fusing every intelligence source into a clear picture of detecting and monitoring the drug flow. Working with our closest ally in this effort, the Colombians, JIATF-South tracks the flow as it departs the source zone and moves by sea and air through the transit zone directly into the U.S.

Specific to Central America, JIATF-South orchestrates Operation Martillo, designed to interdict trafficking along the littorals on both sides of Central America. Even with few interdiction assets to speak of, the task force’s efforts are wildly successful in a relative sense, although much of the take last year was due to Canadian, Dutch, French and British assets. This help is expected to drop off significantly. Unfortunately, over the next few years we will see fewer and fewer assets to detect, monitor and interdict, and the very same reality confronts our Canadian and European allies. This means even more cocaine and heroin making landfall in Honduras, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Mexico, exacerbating — if that is even possible — the problems these nations face today.

I have found over my years of working with partner nations around the globe that nothing changes countries for the good like working alongside the U.S. military in a close and continuous relationship. Nothing. Our training, our advice, our tactics, techniques and procedures, and just as importantly our values and good example change them for the good.

Take, for instance, Colombia, an amazing success story of bringing a country back from the same kind of brink Honduras and other Central American nations are facing today. Colombia did all of its own fighting and paid the vast majority of the bill itself. All we provided was advice, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and encouragement.

Another example is human rights, which are along the road to improvement in these countries not because of criticism, lecturing and censure, but because of U.S.-led conferences, seminars and training modules embedded in everything we do with them, most of which is conducted by junior officers and noncommissioned officers who bring their American ideals to every engagement. I challenge anyone to argue differently, unless of course one does not trust U.S. intentions in the region and also does not have faith in the decency of our military men and women.

Given our current fiscal and asset limitations in working with these partners, and I want to include Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Peru as well, SOUTHCOM’s primary effort is working closely with them on human rights issues, sharing information and intelligence, as well as building capacity within their security forces. We do this by treating them as equals, encouraging them where they are having success, and most importantly working with them where they need help.

Where I can work with a partner nation, as with Honduras and Operation Morazon, a nationwide interagency citizen security initiative, the majority of my support is centered on assisting the Hondurans with securing their borders — particularly the north coast, where we have helped them develop a “maritime shield” against the influx of tons of drugs weekly. This effort includes identifying for them the now over 100 illicit rural dirt airstrips, which they destroy, again with our help.

This package of planning and advising assistance, combined with some other factors, including the strong commitment of Honduras’ new president and his national security team, has all but stopped airborne drug flights into Honduras. This effort is completely integrated into JIATF-South’s operations, and we have the Hondurans working with the Guatemalans and the Nicaraguans in attempts to better secure land borders among all three. While the maritime shield might reduce the amount of drugs entering the country, it does not attack the proximate cause of unaccompanied minor migration, but it is a first step in an overall package.

SOUTHCOM is also improving defense institutional capacity in Central America, with Guatemala as the most recent example. Over the past two years we have worked with the Defense Institutional Reform Initiative and the William Perry Center to support the Guatemalan defense ministry’s efforts to increase its defense sector governance capacity and transparency through development and promulgation of a new national security strategy, national defense strategy, and associated strategic planning and budgeting processes. This has already provided a return on investment: a finished Guatemalan national defense policy and an outcome-based 2014 budget built using a transparent, capabilities-based planning process.

We also conduct humanitarian-assistance/disaster-response activities designed to reduce widespread conditions such as human suffering, disease, hunger and privation. Our objectives are to improve basic living conditions in countries that have ungoverned spaces susceptible to exploitation.

These projects enhance the legitimacy of the host nation government by improving its capacity to provide its population with essential services. We want to erode the influence, control and support for transnational criminal organizations, drug trafficking organizations and violent extremist organizations. This would include denying, deterring and preventing these groups from exploiting ungoverned areas and vulnerable populations.

In comparison to other global threats, the near collapse of societies in the hemisphere with the associated drug and illegal alien flow are frequently viewed to be of low importance. Many argue these threats are not existential and do not challenge our national security. I disagree.

Transnational criminal organizations contribute to instability, breakdown of governance and lawlessness, not to mention the roughly 35,000 deaths and $200 billion that drug use (primarily heroin, coke and meth) costs America every year. I believe that the mass migration of children we are all of a sudden struggling with is a leading indicator of the negative second- and third-order impacts on our national interests that are now reality due to the nearly unimpeded flow of drugs up the isthmus, as well as the unbelievable levels of drug profits (approximately $85 billion) available to transnational criminal organizations to buy police departments, court systems and even governments.

Violent criminal organizations, including gangs and groups engaged in trafficking, take advantage of the region’s patchy development and fledgling democracies to threaten government operations and human security. The complex challenges facing Central America cannot be resolved by military means alone, but without appropriate application of U.S. military support it will remain fertile ground for every threat to regional security and stability.

There are solutions. And going forward we have to start with something akin to a new approach to Central America that balances prosperity, governance and security, and funding that has to involve every agency of the U.S. government.

Kelly is commander of U.S. Southern Command in Miami.

Fuente: http://www.armytimes.com/article/20140708/NEWS01/307080064/SOUTHCOM-chief-Central-America-drug-war-dire-threat-U-S-national-security

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The U.S. Re-militarization of Central America and Mexico

by Alexander Main
Report

2661 Honduran paratroopers with U.S. Special Forces soldiers during a “static line jump” (UNASOC News Service / Creative Commons)

During his brief visit to Costa Rica in May 2013, President Obama appeared eager to downplay the U.S. regional security agenda, emphasizing instead trade relations, energy cooperation, and youth programs. “So much of the focus ends up being on security,” he complained during a joint press conference with his Costa Rican counterpart Laura Chinchilla. “But we also have to recognize that problems like narco-trafficking arise in part when a country is vulnerable because of poverty, because of institutions that are not working for the people, because young people don’t see a brighter future ahead.” Asked by a journalist about the potential use of U.S. warships to counter drug-trafficking, Obama was adamant: “I’m not interested in militarizing the struggle against drug trafficking.”

Human rights organizations from Central America, Mexico, and the United States see the administration’s regional security policy very differently. In a letter sent to Obama and the region’s other presidents last year, over 145 civil society organizations called out U.S. policies that “promote militarization to address organized crime.” These policies, the letter states, have only resulted in a “dramatic surge in violent crime, often reportedly perpetrated by security forces themselves. Human rights abuses against our families and communities are, in many cases, directly attributable to failed and counterproductive security policies that have militarized our societies in the name of the ‘war on drugs.’”

The latest round in the ramping up of U.S. security assistance to Mexico and Central America began during President George W. Bush’s second term in office. Funding allocated to the region’s police and military forces climbed steadily upward to levels unseen since the U.S.-backed “dirty wars” of the 1980s. As narco-trafficking operations shifted increasingly from the Caribbean to the Central American corridor, the United States worked with regional governments to stage a heavily militarized war on drugs in an area that had yet to fully recover from nearly two decades of war.

In 2008 the Bush Administration launched the Mérida Initiative, a cooperation agreement that provides training, equipment, and intelligence to Mexican and Central American security forces. A key model for these agreements is Plan Colombia, an $8 billion program launched in 1999 that saw the mass deployment of military troops and militarized police forces to both interdict illegal drugs and counter left-wing guerrilla groups. Plan Colombia is frequently touted as a glowing success by U.S. officials who point to statistics indicating that drug production and violence has dropped while rebel groups’ size and territorial reach have significantly receded. Human rights groups, however, have documented the program’s widespread “collateral damage,” which includes the forced displacement of an estimated 5.7 million Colombians, thousands of extrajudicial killings, and continued attacks and killings targeting community activists, labor leaders, and journalists.

Under President Obama, the U.S. government has renewed and expanded Mérida and, in 2011, created the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI). From 2008 to 2013, these programs have received over $2 billion and $574 million respectively, according to a 2014 report by the Igarapé Institute. Though administration spokespeople emphasize investments made in judicial reform and drug prevention programs, most funds have been spent on supporting increasingly warlike drug interdiction and law enforcement.

The surge in U.S. security assistance has coincided with a notable regional increase in the militarization of law enforcement activities. Starting in 2007, former President Felipe Calderón of Mexico began deploying tens of thousands of troops as part of his government’s crackdown on drugs and organized crime. In El Salvador troops were deployed in the streets in 2009 and their presence was increased in 2011. In 2011 and 2012 Salvadoran president Mauricio Funes appointed active and inactive military officers to top security posts, breaking with the tradition since the country’s 1992 peace accords of keeping these posts in civilian hands. In Guatemala, meanwhile, over 21,000 army troops have taken up policing missions, often far outnumbering the number of police personnel in the areas where they are deployed. According to the Center for International Policy (CIP) approximately 40% of Guatemala’s security-related posts have been filled by former military officers, since former army chief Otto Perez Molina’s 2012 ascension to the presidency.

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U.S. security funding to Honduras was briefly suspended following the June 2009 military coup. But by the following year the United States had resumed funding at a higher rate than before the coup, even though the Center for Justice and International Law noted that “high-ranking Army officers or former members of the Army against whom complaints were brought for their participation in the coup d’état, are occupying executive positions in government offices.” In November 2011 the Honduran government began sending military patrols into the streets to fight common crime, and in August 2013 a new Military Police for Public Order was created, tasked with cracking down on gang activity. Military involvement in policing duties had been prohibited under the Honduran constitution, but in January 2014 the country’s legislature amended the constitution to permit a military police force.

Though the U.S. government has remained silent regarding military involvement in law enforcement activities, the steady increase of U.S. assistance to national armed forces has, if anything, been an indicator of tacit U.S. support. But the U.S. role in militarization of national police forces has been direct as well. In 2011 and 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team (FAST)—which had previously carried out military-style missions in Afghanistan—set up camp in Honduras to train a local counternarcotics police unit and help plan and execute drug interdiction operations in the Mosquitia, a remote region in eastern Honduras that has recently become a hub for the transit of drug shipments northward.

Supported by U.S. helicopters mounted with high caliber machine guns, these operations were nearly indistinguishable from military missions, and locals routinely referred to the DEA and Honduran police agents as “soldados” (soldiers). According to The New York Times, five “commando style squads” of FAST teams have been deployed across Central America to train and support local counternarcotics units.

In July 2013, the Honduran government created a new “elite” police unit called the Intelligence Troop and Special Security Group, or TIGRES (Spanish for “tigers”). The unit, which human rights groups contend is military in nature, has been deployed in tandem with the new military police force and has received training in military combat tactics from both U.S. and Colombian Special Forces units.

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Outside of Honduras, Colombian military and police trainers are now active throughout the region as well. Eager to help export the “successful” Plan Colombia model, the United States has funded training programs carried out by Colombian security forces in Mexico, Central America, and beyond. In 2012, President Obama and Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos announced a joint multi-million dollar Action Plan on Regional Security Cooperation that draws on “Colombia’s established and expanding expertise and capacity for countering transnational organized crime…and shared U.S. responsibility to address the demand for illicit narcotics,” according to a State Department release.

2660 A Honduran paratrooper and U.S. Special Forces soldier shake hands (UNASOC News Service / Creative Commons)

Human rights groups such as the Fellowship for Reconciliation (see Lindsay-Poland, this issue) note that many members of Colombia’s police and military forces are—like many of their Mexican and Central American counterparts—implicated in extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses. Transnational crime organizations are believed to have permeated a large number of the region’s police and military units as well.

The U.S. government presents the increased support to Mexico and Central America’s security forces as a necessary response to the alarming rise in drug-trafficking activity which has, in turn, fueled violent crime. But has U.S. policy borne positive results? The question is complicated because the United States and its partners have failed to publicly establish clear metrics to assess counternarcotics efforts. One of the few measures used by the U.S. Congress is “the pace of equipment deliveries and training opportunities” according to a Congressional Research Service Report, though this information says nothing about the effectiveness and impact of aid. U.S. officials highlight statistics showing that there is less cocaine available in the U.S. today than in the years prior to the Mérida Initiative, but it appears likely that this trend is counterbalanced by the increased availability and popularity of other drugs like heroin.

What is certain is that the surge in U.S. security assistance has been accompanied by a dramatic spike in violent crime in several countries. Homicide rates have skyrocketed in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the countries that have received the bulk of CARSI funding. Today those countries—often referred to as the Northern Triangle—comprise one of the most violent regions on earth. In Mexico, meanwhile, Human Rights Watch estimates that around 80,000 people have died in drug-related killings since 2006. Drug violence has also led to the displacement of over 200,000 Mexicans, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center.

U.S. officials have suggested that the epidemic of violence in the region actually indicates the effectiveness of the war on drugs. The head of the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, William Brownfield, recently told the Associated Press that “the bloodshed tends to occur and increase when these trafficking organizations…come under some degree of pressure.” This theory doesn’t seem to be supported by any concrete evidence, and appears to disregard the fact that many of those killed have no links to drug trafficking.

The chilling reality is that the majority of U.S. security assistance flowing to Mexico and Central America is going to police and military forces that only two decades earlier were engaged in horrifying acts of killing and torture against political opponents and indigenous communities. With few exceptions, security forces across Central America have undergone no serious reform since the 1980s, and the state agents responsible for past human rights violations have not been brought to justice for even the most egregious crimes, such as the massacre of entire villages. Today, the region’s judicial institutions—particularly in Mexico and the Northern Triangle—remain deeply corrupt and inefficient, and only a tiny proportion of crimes involving security forces are successfully investigated and prosecuted.

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The U.S. government has been reluctant to acknowledge the growing number of extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses reportedly perpetrated by members of state security forces receiving U.S. support. In 2011, Human Rights Watch presented evidence of Mexican security forces’ involvement in “more than 170 cases of torture, 39 “disappearances,” and 24 extrajudicial killings since 2006.” And these incidents are likely only a drop in the bucket. From 2007 to April 2011 Mexico’s Federal Prosecutor’s Office opened 1,615 investigations into alleged military crimes against civilians, but not a single one of these investigations resulted in a prosecution.

As documented in an in-depth report by Rights Action and the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and by journalist Kaelyn Forde in NACLA’s Fall 2013 issue, on May 11, 2012, a drug interdiction operation involving Honduran police and DEA FAST team agents flew into the tiny municipality of Ahuas and opened fire on a passenger boat, resulting in the killing of four indigenous villagers, none of whom were known to have links to drug trafficking. To this day, the families of the victims of the Ahuas killings await justice and compensation from the Honduran and U.S. governments. And in a number of documented instances across Central America, attacks by security forces have targeted civil society groups engaged in peaceful protests or other forms of non-violent opposition. In Guatemala troops have killed indigenous protestors demonstrating against the government’s economic reforms. Honduran military and police units are accused of killing dozens of land rights advocates in the Bajo Aguán valley close to the Atlantic coast, and a peaceful demonstrator protesting a hydroelectric project further west in the Rio Blanco Valley.

Killings and attacks against women, human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, LGBT activists, union leaders, and political opposition leaders have risen sharply. In Honduras, many occur in death squad fashion, with individuals kidnapped by masked men in unmarked vehicles, shot and left by the roadside, sometimes with evidence of torture. Given the tactics, many suspect the involvement of security forces, but those responsible are almost never brought to justice.

Citing these widespread abuses, human rights groups and many members of Congress have pushed back against the U.S. security spending frenzy. In 2012, 94 members of the U.S. House of Representatives demanded the complete suspension of police and military assistance to Honduras. Congressional appropriators have conditioned portions of security aid to Mexico and Honduras pending State Department certification of governments’ compliance with human rights and accountability provisions. They have also maintained a long-standing ban on foreign military funding and training of Guatemalan army units in appropriations funneled through the State Department.

But the Obama administration has consistently certified Mexico and Honduras as compliant with human rights conditions in spite of, in the case of Honduras, public objections from over 20 U.S. senators. The ban on some security assistance to Guatemala is amply compensated by direct Department of Defense support to military units, among them those that reportedly include members of the Kaibiles, Special Forces troops implicated in past massacres.

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Recently, the United States began channeling more sophisticated and insidious forms of support to the region’s security forces. Through CARSI, the U.S. government has equipped police institutions with surveillance technology and encouraged widespread wiretapping activity. The overt intention may be to improve local law enforcements’ ability to intercept drug traffickers’ calls, but—given the absence of effective judicial accountability—civil society actors legitimately fear that this enhanced surveillance capacity is being directed at them.

Despite the United States’ enormous investment, the State Department’s 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report notes that “approximately 90 percent of illegal drugs from South America destined for the United States are smuggled through the seven Central American countries and Mexican corridor.” Why have billions of dollars been spent on a failed policy that has only generated more violence? And why, in an apparent repetition of the dark days of Central America’s dirty wars, does Washington invest so heavily in strengthening and empowering corrupt security forces with appalling human rights records?

U.S. officials’ unwavering faith in the Colombian militarized model is no doubt part of the reason. But a stubbornly persistent Cold War mindset may also be at play. Based on hours of interviews with State Department officials and Congressional staffers, investigative journalist Hector Silva Avalos recently observed in an Inter-American Dialogue report that the U.S. security agenda in the Northern Triangle is driven in part by the perceived threat of the growing regional power of the Venezuelan government. A new “anti-American narrative,” he argues, has replaced the prior communist threat in the eyes of key policy makers.

Avalos’s findings echo a 2007 U.S. strategy memorandum—part of the WikiLeaks trove of diplomatic cables—on the “Southern Cone Perspective on Countering Chávez and Reasserting U.S. Leadership.” Though the memo focuses on policy toward the Southern Cone, its message would no doubt resonate among U.S. Central America policy makers. “We should continue to strengthen ties to those military leaders in the region who share our concern over [late Venezuelan president Hugo] Chávez,” stated the memorandum

The U.S. government’s failed and destructive regional anti-drug policy now faces a swelling movement of resistance from Central American leaders and grassroots movements alike. Governments are debating alternative policies that include potential decriminalization of drug possession and use.

Human rights groups and social movements are increasingly united in decrying the use of army troops and militarized police in repressing popular movements and defending corporations in their efforts to wrest resource-rich lands from communities. The priority, they believe, is building strong, transparent judicial institutions to address human rights crimes and ensure accountability. To eradicate the scourge of violent crime, investment is needed, not in military equipment and police and military training, but in equitable and sustainable economic development that addresses the basic needs of the poor.

 


 

Alexander Main is the Senior Associate for International Policy at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), with a focus on U.S. foreign policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean.

Fuente: https://nacla.org/article/us-re-militarization-central-america-and-mexico

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EE.UU. aprueba dos mil millones de dólares para atender crisis de niños centroamericanos

La Administración continúa muy preocupada por el aumento de los niños no acompañados de Centroamérica que están cruzando hacia Estados Unidos.

Estos niños son algunos de los más vulnerables, y muchos se convierten en víctimas de delitos violentos o abuso sexual a lo largo del peligroso viaje.

Estos niños son algunos de los más vulnerables, y muchos se convierten en víctimas de delitos violentos o abuso sexual a lo largo del peligroso viaje.

También ha habido un aumento en el número de niños de muy corta edad, niñas, y adultos con sus hijos que están haciendo el viaje. La gran mayoría de estas personas dependen de las peligrosas redes de tráfico de personas para su transporte a través de América Central y México.

Para hacer frente a esta situación, el Presidente ordenó al Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DHS, por sus siglas en inglés) y a la Agencia Federal para el Manejo de Emergencias coordinar una respuesta a nivel de todo el Gobierno ante esta urgente situación.

Nuestra primera prioridad es la gestión de la urgente situación humanitaria, asegurándonos que estos niños sean alojados, alimentados, y que reciban cualquier tratamiento médico necesario.

También estamos tomando medidas para mejorar el cumplimiento y la colaboración con nuestros homólogos centroamericanos en tres áreas clave: la lucha contra la violencia de las pandillas y el fortalecimiento de la seguridad ciudadana, el estímulo del desarrollo económico, y la mejora de la capacidad para recibir y reintegrar a las familias y niños retornados.

En Guatemala, el Vicepresidente se está reuniendo con líderes de la región para hacer frente al aumento en el flujo de niños no acompañados y adultos con sus hijos hacia los Estados Unidos, para discutir nuestro trabajo conjunto con los países de Centroamérica, y para conversar sobre nuestros esfuerzos para ayudar a abordar los problemas de seguridad y económicos subyacentes que causan la migración.
Trabajando en Conjunto con Centroamérica y México

Programas Nuevos

• El Gobierno de los Estados Unidos proveerá $ 9.6 millones en apoyo adicional para los gobiernos centroamericanos para que reciban y reintegren a sus ciudadanos repatriados. Este financiamiento permitirá que El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras puedan hacer inversiones sustanciales en sus centros de repatriación actuales, proveer entrenamiento a oficiales de inmigración sobre el cuidado de migrantes, e incrementar la capacidad de estos gobiernos y de organizaciones no gubernamentales para facilitar servicios a inmigrantes retornados.

• En Guatemala, estamos lanzando un nuevo programa de $40 millones de 5 años de la Agencia de los Estados Unidos para el Desarrollo Internacional (USAID) para mejorar la seguridad ciudadana. Este programa se ejecutará en algunas de las comunidades más violentas para reducir los factores de riesgo para los jóvenes involucrados en pandillas y afrontar los factores que conducen a la migración hacia los Estados Unidos.

• En El Salvador, estamos iniciando un nuevo programa de la USAID de $ 25 millones para la Prevención del Crimen y Violencia de 5 años que establecerá 77 centros de alcance para jóvenes, además de los 30 que ya existentes. Estos continuarán ofreciendo servicios a jóvenes en riesgo que son susceptibles al reclutamiento de pandillas y convertirse en migrantes potenciales.

• En Honduras, bajo la Iniciativa de Seguridad Regional de América Central (CARSI), proveeremos $18.5 millones para apoyar los esfuerzos de vigilancia comunitaria y esfuerzos de cumplimiento de la ley para confrontar a las pandillas y otras fuentes de crimen. Además, USAID continuará una iniciativa existente para apoyar a 40 centros de alcance para jóvenes, anunciando dentro de poco un sustancial nuevo programa de Prevención del Crimen y Violencia para afrontar los problemas desde su raíz.

• La USAID está solicitando propuestas para apoyar nuevas iniciativas de asociaciones pública-privadas a través de Alianza de Desarrollo Global para incrementar las oportunidades económicas y educativas para jóvenes en riesgo en El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras.

• Los Estados Unidos también planea proveer $161.5 millones este año para programas CARSI que son importantes para permitir que los países centroamericanos puedan responder a los desafíos más críticos de seguridad y gobernabilidad de la región. Nuestra asistencia contribuirá a reducir los flujos de migración así como afrontar las causas que generan la migración. Esta asistencia incluirá:

Aproximadamente $65 millones para programas de Cumplimiento de la Ley, Derechos Humanos y Transparencia, incluyendo actividades para prevenir que los jóvenes en riesgo formen parte de pandillas y motivar su participación en esfuerzos comunitarios para la prevención del crimen y programas para aumentar la educación y entrenamiento laboral.

Aproximadamente unos $ 96.5 millones adicionales se utilizarán en programas para consolidar la paz, seguridad, estabilización, y otros relacionados con el cumplimiento de la ley para fortalecer la inmigración, el cumplimiento de la ley, y las autoridades judiciales y promover programas antipandillas y de derechos humanos.
Programas en progreso

• Estados Unidos está proporcionando casi $ 130 millones en asistencia bilateral en progreso a El Salvador, Honduras y Guatemala para una variedad de programas relacionados con salud, educación, cambio climático, crecimiento económico, cooperación militar y democracia.

• Estamos colaborando en campañas para asistir a migrantes potenciales a entender los significativos peligros de depender de redes de tráfico de personas y para reforzar que los niños y personas que han arribado recientemente no son elegibles para programas como el Programa de Acción Diferida para Jóvenes Indocumentados, comúnmente conocido como DACA, y ser beneficiarios de provisiones de ciudadanía incluidas en la reforma inmigratoria integral que actualmente está bajo consideración del Congreso.

Aumento del cumplimiento de la Ley

• El Departamento de Justicia y el DHS están tomando medidas adicionales para aumentar los procedimientos de cumplimiento de la ley y de remoción de personas. Estamos incrementando los recursos de cumplimiento de la ley del gobierno para aumentar nuestra capacidad de detener a personas y adultos que son acompañados por sus hijos para realizar audiencias en tribunales migratorios –en casos donde dichas audiencias sean necesarias– tan rápido y eficiente como sea posible mientras también se protege a aquellos que solicitan asilo. Esto permitirá que el Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas (ICE, por sus siglas en inglés) pueda retornar a migrantes ilegales centroamericanos a sus países de origen de forma más rápida.

• Estas nuevas medidas complementan un enérgico récord actual de cumplimiento de la ley y de retorno de centroamericanos que ingresan al país ilegalmente. En el año fiscal 2013, el ICE retornó a 47,769 personas de Guatemala, 37,049 de Honduras, y 21,602 de El Salvador. Esto representa aproximadamente un 29% de todas las remociones realizadas por el ICE.

• El vicepresidente reiterará que los niños no acompañados y los adultos que lleguen con sus hijos no son elegibles para ser beneficiarios de la aprobación de la legislación de reforma migratoria o del Programa de Acción Diferida para Jóvenes Indocumentados (DACA).

Fuente: http://www.ellibertador.hn/?q=article/eeuu-aprueba-dos-mil-millones-de-d%C3%B3lares-para-atender-crisis-de-ni%C3%B1os-centroamericanos

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Increased U.S.-Honduras military engagement Share This /

Central America

Increased U.S.-Honduras military engagement

This week the head of U.S. Southern Command (Southcom), General John Kelly, received an award for his collaboration with Honduras’ armed forces during a one-day visit to the country. The ceremony was the latest in a series of indicators that the U.S. is ramping up its cooperation with the Central American nation in its militarized fight against organized crime.

In late March and early April, cooperation faltered somewhat when the United States stopped sharing radar intelligence after Honduras passed a law permitting its air force to shoot down planes suspected of trafficking drugs. However, a Southcom statement ahead of General Kelly’s visit shows the move had no effect on maritime or land interdiction assistance, which has since increased:

U.S. Southern Command will continue to support Honduras’ Operation Morazan in the maritime and land domains and increase our efforts to reduce the amount of illicit trafficking into and around Honduras, and make the country and region less hospitable to transnational criminal networks.

The statement also said Southcom had offered to boost trainings for the Honduran military, which has become more involved in domestic security since President Juan Orlando Hernández took office in late January. Hernández ran on a platform of increased militarization, promising to “put a soldier on every corner.”

Hernández has moved towards this goal with Operation Morazan, a hyper-militarized security effort launched during his inauguration ceremony. The Southcom statement quoted above mentions ongoing support for the initiative, but there is little information about what that support looks like.

Operation Morazan is a collaborative effort by the Honduran military, military police and national police to saturate the areas most affected by organized crime. Here are a few points on how it is run:

  •  Carried out by the Military Police of Public Order (PMOP), a military police force created by Hernández, TIGRES, a police unit established this year to combat organized crime, Armed Forces, National Police, Directorate of Migration and Foreign Affairs, Executive Directorate of Revenue, Supreme Court and Public Ministry.
  • Involves roadblocks, covert operations, stings, helicopter scouts, military tanks on the street in known conflict areas, and TIGRE raids. People and cars will also be officially registered indefinitely.
  • Authorities designing new operations to combat extortion, which currently affects more of the population than any other crime. Their approach thus far involves carrying out prison raids to confiscate inmates cell phones and blocking all calls coming from the country’s jails.
  • On May 8th Hernandez mentioned a new phase of Morazan, but has yet to reveal further detail on what these additional measures would look like.

Recent polls indicate public support for President Hernández’ heavy-handed policies, which have helped him garner a 66 percent approval rating after winning just 34 percent of the vote in November.

However, some analysts view the program as ineffective. This is because many of those currently being arrested by security officials are street level intermediaries. These are criminals who are neither heading criminal groups nor in charge of recruiting new members, but who are added to the country’s prison population, which is already beyond capacity. In addition to the human rights concerns raised by having troops on the streets, the operation fails address the top down corruption  or high unemployment rates that continue to fuel organized crime in the country.

Operation Martillo

The U.S. has also deployed more ships to the country’s coastline as part of Operation Martillo, a U.S.-led multinational maritime drug interdiction operation in Central America, which Security Assistance Monitor (as Just the Facts) has covered in previous posts and publications.

In March, at the request of President Hernández, the U.S. deployed four armed vessels — two cutters and two frigates, one to the Atlantic and the other to the Pacific – to work in coordination with the country’s navy. In that same month the U.S. also announced it would increase collaboration in monitoring intelligence, in interdiction efforts and in information sharing.

Also of note is that the Obama administration has nominated James D. Nealon (pdf) to replace Ambassador Kubiske. Nealon is currently Southcom’s Foreign Policy Advisor.

Implications for U.S. assistance numbers?

The United States has ratcheted up this increased support through the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), the United States’ main assistance package to the region.

In recent public appearances President Hernández has courted U.S. engagement further, calling the United States and General Kelly “great friends” of Honduras while using the positive feedback for political gain. During a speech on crime after General Kelly’s visit, he told the crowd, “a high U.S. official, who ought to be well informed with respect to this issue, said he was impressed with the work on security. This means that we are on the right path and that Honduras is changing.”

As Central America is the only part of the region where assistance has increased in recent years, it will be interesting to see if the U.S. Congress certifies Honduras for human rights improvements, following this boost in cooperation (currently 35 percent of 2014 assistance provided through the State Department to Honduran security forces is frozen over human rights concerns). Honduras’ heightened militarization comes amid calls for an alternative approach to the drug war in the region and given the notorious corruption plaguing Honduras’ security institutions, increased U.S. military collaboration in the country something to monitor.

Fuente: http://securityassistance.org/content/increased-us-honduras-military-engagement?utm_content=danafrank%40ucsc.edu&utm_source=VerticalResponse&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=Increased%20U.S.-Honduras%20military%20engagement&utm_campaign=%5BBlog%5D%20Increased%20U.S.-Honduras%20military%20engagementcontent

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Southcom Chief Reaffirms Support to Honduran Anti-crime Efforts

By Michael Wimbish
U.S. Southern Command

MIAMI, June 4, 2014 – The commander of U.S. Southern Command visited Honduras this week and met with the Honduran president and top national security officials.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, right front, speaks to Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, commander of the U.S. Southern Command, left front, during a meeting at the Honduran Presidential Palace, June 2, 2014. Kelly, seated next to U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Lisa Kubiske, met with the Honduran president and the nation’s National Security Council to discuss security cooperation and counternarcotics efforts. Photo courtesy of Casa Presidencial de Honduras
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

During a June 2 meeting at the Honduran Presidential Palace, Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly and U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Lisa Kubiske met with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and the nation’s National Security Council to discuss security cooperation and counternarcotics efforts.

Kelly and the Honduran leaders spoke about continued U.S. military support to the Honduran government, which is grappling with transnational criminal organizations and the associated drug and illicit trafficking activities that have brought widespread violence to the Central American nation.

U.S. military support falls under the U.S. government’s comprehensive assistance to Honduras known as the Central American Regional Security Initiative, or CARSI.

In a statement released after the discussions, Kelly said Southcom will continue to support Operation Morazan, the Honduran mission launched earlier this year that is seeing police and military units fighting against drug trafficking, organized crime and money laundering.

Kelly said support will continue in the maritime and land domains and that Southcom will increase efforts “to reduce the amount of illicit trafficking into and around Honduras, and make the country and region less hospitable to transnational criminal networks.”

“We have also offered to expand opportunities for exercises and training — including training and engagements focused on human rights — to increase the capacity of the Honduran military to confront criminal networks,” Kelly said in the statement.

As Southcom’s commander, Kelly oversees all U.S. military operations and engagements in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

U.S. military support and cooperation with Honduras focuses on combating transnational threats, organized crime and drug trafficking; offering humanitarian assistance projects and training; strengthening and coordinating disaster response capabilities; and participation in bilateral and multinational training exercises with the Honduran military.

The U.S. military also has a presence in Honduras. Joint Task Force Bravo, under the command of Southcom, has been operating out of the Honduran Soto Cano Air Base since the mid-1980s. Joint Task Force Bravo operates a forward, all-weather day and night C-5-capable air base. The task force organizes multilateral exercises, and supports — in cooperation with U.S. partner nations — humanitarian and civic assistance, counterdrug, contingency and disaster relief operations in Central America.

This was Kelly’s second visit to Honduras this year.

Fuente: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=122403

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Brownfield y JOH revisarán estrategias frente amenazas del crimen organizado

Lo más reciente  10 febrero, 2014 – 12:11 AM

El subsecretario para Antinarcóticos y Seguridad, William Brownfield, estará acompañado en Honduras por el comandante del Comando Sur de Estados Unidos, general John F. Kelly, en reuniones con el Presidente Juan Orlando Hernández y funcionarios de su administración, como también se reunirá con miembros de la sociedad civil.

El entonces presidente Porfirio Lobo Sosa firmó, en marzo de 2012, con el subsecretario de Estado para Antinarcóticos y Seguridad, William Brownfield, un convenio para financiar programas antimaras.

El entonces presidente Porfirio Lobo Sosa firmó, en marzo de 2012, con el subsecretario de Estado para Antinarcóticos y Seguridad, William Brownfield, un convenio para financiar programas antimaras.

Un comunicado oficial de la embajada de Estados Unidos en Tegucigapa, establece que Brownfield reiterará la alianza de Estados Unidos con Honduras para contrarrestar las amenazas a la región por parte del crimen organizado y del tráfico ilícito, mientras se enfatiza la continua necesidad de salvaguardias a la seguridad ciudadana y el respeto a los derechos humanos.

El alto cargo estadounidense visitó Centroamérica por última vez en junio de 2013, cuando acompañó al secretario de Estado, John Kerry, a las reuniones de la Asamblea General de la Organización de los Estados Americanos (OEA), en Antigua, Guatemala, y ya había estado en Honduras y Guatemala en marzo de 2012.

La gira de Brownfield inicia hoy en Guatemala, donde se reunirá con el presidente Otto Pérez Molina para revisar la cooperación en el contexto de la Iniciativa Regional para la Seguridad en Centroamérica (Carsi, por sus siglas en inglés), y se prolongará hasta el miércoles 12 de febrero, detalló el Departamento de Estado en un comunicado.

CONVENIO ANTIMARAS

En marzo de 2012, el también denominado “zar” antidrogas de Estados Unidos firmó con el entonces presidente Porfirio Lobo Sosa, un convenio por dos millones de dólares para financiar programas antimaras a través de la Carsi. El convenio fue suscrito en la colonia San Miguel de Tegucigalpa, donde también se inauguró el programa Distrito Policía Modelo, con el objetivo de reducir el crimen y mejorar las relaciones de los ciudadanos con la Policía mediante una reestructuración de las estaciones policiales en el país.

El subsecretario de Estado para Antinarcóticos y Seguridad, William Brownfield, inauguró en 2012 varios programas apoyados por Estados Unidos, en compañía de la embajadora, Lisa Kubiske.

El subsecretario de Estado para Antinarcóticos y Seguridad, William Brownfield, inauguró en 2012 varios programas apoyados por Estados Unidos, en compañía de la embajadora, Lisa Kubiske.

Durante el acto, en el que también participaron la embajadora Lisa Kubiske, también se entregaron 30 motocicletas, valoradas en más de 229 mil dólares para los distritos policiales modelos. Durante su visita, Brownfield también inauguró el programa de Recinto Modelo en la Penitenciaría Nacional, en Támara, Distrito Central, para capacitar al personal penitenciario.

De igual manera, el funcionario supervisó los avances en los programas de prevención a través de una visita al Centro de Alcance de la colonia Nueva Suyapa, uno de los 25 centros apoyados por Estados Unidos, que ofrece atención y capacitación a jóvenes en riesgo social.

Igual se inauguró un laboratorio de computación donado por Estados Unidos, en la escuela técnica pública San Martín.

“Hemos dedicado mucho tiempo a los planes y las estrategias, el momento ha llegado para hacer programas y operaciones. Hemos dicho varias veces que Honduras y Estados Unidos comparten una crisis o francamente dos crisis: una crisis de violencia y seguridad, y segunda: crisis de tráfico de drogas ilícitas”, declaró el “zar” antidrogas norteamericano en esa oportunidad.

Fuente: http://www.latribuna.hn/2014/02/10/brownfield-y-joh-revisaran-estrategias-frente-amenazas-del-crimen-organizado/

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Subsecretario antidrogas de EEUU llega a Honduras la próxima semana para abordar temas de seguridad

12:49
06
Febrero
2014
Washington – El subsecretario de Estado de EEUU para Antinarcóticos y Seguridad, William Brownfield, visitará Guatemala y Honduras a partir del domingo próximo para abordar la cooperación en materia de seguridad y drogas, anunció hoy el Departamento de Estado.
El viaje de Brownfield a los dos países centroamericanos se prolongará hasta el miércoles 12 de febrero, detalló el Departamento de Estado en un comunicado.

El alto funcionario visitará en primer lugar Guatemala, donde se reunirá con el presidente Otto Pérez Molina para revisar la cooperación en el marco de la Iniciativa Regional para la Seguridad en Centroamérica (CARSI, por sus siglas en inglés).

A través de esta iniciativa, Estados Unidos ha destinado casi 500 millones de dólares desde 2008 para combatir la inseguridad en Centroamérica.

Además, como parte del “compromiso” de EEUU con “fortalecer el Estado de derecho”, Brownfield tendrá un encuentro con el jefe de la Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (Cicig), el fiscal colombiano Iván Velásquez, y anunciará “asistencia adicional”, de acuerdo con el Departamento de Estado.

Durante su estancia en Honduras, donde se entrevistará con el presidente Juan Orlando Hernández y otros miembros del Gobierno, Brownfield estará acompañado por el jefe del Comando Sur de EEUU, el general John Kelly.

Según el Departamento de Estado, Brownfield reiterará la “alianza” de EEUU con Honduras para “contrarrestar las amenazas regionales que plantea la delincuencia organizada” y destacará la “necesidad” de seguir aplicando en ese país medidas para fortalecer la seguridad ciudadana y el respeto de los derechos humanos.

Brownfield visitó Centroamérica en junio del año pasado, cuando acompañó al secretario de Estado de EEUU, John Kerry, a la Asamblea General de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) que se celebró en Antigua (Guatemala).

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Informe Mundial 2014: Honduras

Eventos de 2013

Existen en Honduras gravísimos índices de criminalidad e impunidad por violaciones de derechos humanos. El índice de homicidios, que aumentó consistentemente en la última década, fue el más alto a nivel mundial durante 2013. Los responsables de asesinatos y otros delitos violentos pocas veces son llevados ante la justicia. La actuación de las instituciones a cargo de la seguridad pública sigue siendo en gran medida ineficaz y ha estado asociada con numerosos señalamientos de corrupción y abusos, mientras que las iniciativas que procuran reformar estas fuerzas no han conseguido avances importantes.

Entre las personas más vulnerables a ataques se encuentran periodistas, activistas campesinos y personas LGBTI. Aun así, el gobierno no juzga a los responsables ni brinda protección a quienes se encuentran en riesgo.

Tras despedir arbitrariamente del cargo a cuatro magistrados de la Corte Suprema de Justicia en diciembre de 2012, el Congreso sancionó una ley que habilita a este poder a destituir jueces y al fiscal general, una medida que profundiza el debilitamiento de la independencia judicial y fiscal.

Abusos y corrupción policial

La impunidad en casos de graves abusos policiales representa un problema crónico. Entre enero de 2011 y noviembre de 2012, 149 civiles murieron a manos de policías, incluidas 18 personas de menos de 19 años, según surge de un informe de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras. El entonces Comisionado de Policía Nacional Preventiva Alex Villanueva confirmó las conclusiones del informe e indicó que posiblemente haya habido muchos más asesinatos cometidos por policías que nunca fueron denunciados. El gobierno no respondió a reclamos del rector de la universidad de que informara cuántos de estos asesinatos habían sido investigados o permitieron la imposición de condenas.

Evidencias convincentes recabadas por una investigación de Associated Press en mayo de 2013 sugieren la participación policial en al menos cinco ejecuciones extrajudiciales o desapariciones de presuntos miembros de pandillas en Tegucigalpa. Las autoridades han aportado versiones contradictorias con respecto a los avances de iniciativas para erradicar la corrupción policial. La implementación de estos esfuerzos ha sido lenta e ineficaz. En abril de 2013, el entonces jefe de la Dirección de Investigación y Evaluación de la Carrera Policial comunicó al Congreso que, de 230 policías que fueron evaluados según parámetros sobre corrupción, 33 no superaron la prueba. No obstante, solamente siete de estos fueron suspendidos, y algunos fueron reincorporados posteriormente.

Intervención de militares en operativos de seguridad pública

En noviembre de 2011, el Congreso sancionó un decreto de emergencia que permitió a militares llevar a cabo funciones de seguridad pública, y desde entonces se ha prorrogado periódicamente. En agosto de 2013, el Congreso sancionó una ley que autorizó la creación de una fuerza de policía militar con atribución para controlar barrios donde haya violencia y efectuar detenciones, entre otras funciones, a pesar de los antecedentes de abusos militares contra civiles.

Independencia judicial y fiscal

En diciembre de 2012, la Sala Constitucional de la Corte Suprema de Justicia determinó la inconstitucionalidad de una ley sobre vigilancia policial, que había conseguido el apoyo de la mayoría en el Congreso y del presidente. Poco después, el Congreso destituyó a cuatro de los cinco miembros de la sala por “conducta administrativa” impropia. En enero de 2013 se designaron los reemplazantes, y en febrero la Corte Suprema desestimó un recurso interpuesto por los jueces destituidos. El Consejo de la Judicatura, un órgano independiente creado mediante una reforma constitucional en 2001 para designar y destituir jueces, podría contribuir con su trabajo a frenar la interferencia policial en procesos judiciales, pero al momento de la redacción de este documento sus miembros aún no habían sido designados.

En abril de 2013, el Congreso suspendió en funciones al Fiscal General Luis Rubí y a su adjunto, y nombró en reemplazo a una comisión interventora, mientras se encontraba pendiente una investigación sobre la efectividad de esta fiscalía y presuntos actos de corrupción cometidos en su ámbito, una potestad que se confirió al Congreso tras una reforma constitucional en 2002. Rubí y su adjunto renunciaron en junio, antes de que concluyera la investigación.

Impunidad de abusos posteriores al golpe de Estado

Luego del golpe militar de junio de 2009, el gobierno de facto suspendió varias libertades civiles fundamentales, incluida la libertad de prensa y de reunión. En los días siguientes, las fuerzas de seguridad respondieron a manifestaciones mayormente pacíficas con un uso excesivo de la fuerza y clausuraron medios opositores, lo cual derivó en varias muertes, numerosos heridos y miles de detenciones arbitrarias. La comisión de la verdad establecida por el Presidente Porfirio Lobo publicó en julio de 2011 un informe que documentó 20 casos de uso excesivo de la fuerza y asesinatos cometidos por miembros de las fuerzas de seguridad. Honduras obtuvo avances muy limitados en el juzgamiento de abusos durante 2013.

Ataques contra periodistas

Sigue siendo habitual que periodistas sufran amenazas, agresiones y asesinatos en Honduras. Las autoridades no investigan estos delitos eficazmente. Según el Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CONADEH), 36 periodistas fueron asesinados entre 2003 y mediados de 2013, y otros 29 desde que el Presidente Lobo asumió la presidencia. En junio de 2013, el presentador de noticias de televisión Aníbal Barrow fue llevado por la fuerza mientras circulaba con su vehículo en San Pedro Sula, y restos de su cuerpo desmembrado fueron encontrados varias semanas después. Si bien varias personas han sido acusadas por su presunta participación en el secuestro y homicidio de Barrow, ninguna ha sido condenada.

Violencia rural

Más de 90 personas han sido asesinadas en los últimos años en relación con controversias de tierras en la región del Bajo Aguán, la mayoría de ellas a partir de 2009, conforme indica un informe publicado en marzo de 2013 por el CONADEH, y muchas más han sido víctimas de ataques y amenazas. Las controversias a menudo enfrentan a empresas agroindustriales internacionales y organizaciones campesinas que reclaman ser legítimas propietarias de tierras transferidas tras una reforma de la ley agraria del país. Si bien la mayoría de las víctimas han sido campesinos, también guardias de seguridad fueron asesinados o sufrieron lesiones. Ninguna de las investigaciones sobre los asesinatos relevados en el informe del CONADEH ha dado lugar a una condena.

Violencia contra personas LGBTI

Los ataques dirigidos específicamente a personas lesbianas, gais, bisexuales, transgénero e intersexuales (LGBTI) constituyen un grave problema en Honduras. Según organizaciones locales de derechos, más de 90 personas LGBTI fueron asesinadas entre 2009 y 2012, y muchas más sufrieron agresiones y hostigamiento. La presunta participación de policías hondureños en algunos de estos violentos abusos constituye un dato particularmente alarmante. En 2011 y 2012, el gobierno creó fiscalías especiales para investigar estos delitos, pero pese a ello en general estos hechos quedan impunes.

Condiciones en centros de detención

Existen en las cárceles hondureñas condiciones inhumanas sistémicas, que incluyen sobrepoblación, nutrición inadecuada y salubridad insuficiente. Según el CONADEH, en mayo de 2013 había más de 12.600 presos en las cárceles del país, que tienen capacidad máxima para aproximadamente 8.200 internos. La corrupción es particularmente pronunciada entre los funcionarios penitenciarios. Un informe publicado por la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) en agosto de 2013 determinó que el gobierno no había asignado suficientes recursos para abordar estos problemas crónicos, ni tampoco había investigado exhaustivamente distintas tragedias, como el incendio ocurrido en la Penitenciaría Nacional de Comayagua en 2012, durante el cual murieron 362 personas.

Defensores de derechos humanos

Continúan los hechos de violencia y las amenazas contra defensores de derechos humanos. En julio, dos observadores internacionales de derechos humanos que acompañaban a activistas amenazados por oponerse a un proyecto minero en Nueva Esperanza afirmaron haber sido llevados por la fuerza y amenazados por hombres armados, quienes les advirtieron que iban a desaparecer si no se iban de la comunidad.

Si bien en agosto de 2013 el gobierno presentó un proyecto legislativo ante el Congreso para proteger a defensores de derechos humanos, periodistas y profesionales del derecho, diversas organizaciones de derechos humanos de Honduras indicaron que el proyecto no prevé medidas de protección adecuadas. A la fecha de elaboración de este documento, la ley aún no había sido sancionada. El gobierno tampoco ha cumplido su compromiso de crear un mecanismo nacional de protección para defensores de derechos humanos y periodistas en riesgo, que según informó a la CIDH en febrero de 2013 se encontraba en “proceso de consulta”.

Actores internacionales clave

Estados Unidos destinó más de US$ 50 millones de asistencia a objetivos de seguridad en Honduras entre 2010 y 2012, y mantiene esta ayuda a través de la Iniciativa Regional de Seguridad para América Central (Central America Regional Security Initiative, CARSI). La normativa estadounidense que prevé la ayuda militar y policial a Honduras indica que el 20 por ciento de los fondos estarán disponibles recién cuando el Departamento de Estado de los Estados Unidos informe que el gobierno hondureño ha cumplido una serie de requisitos de derechos humanos.

En su informe de 2012 sobre tales requisitos, el Departamento de Estado de los Estados Unidos dispuso la entrega de los fondos condicionados, pero estipuló que no se debía destinar asistencia al director de la Policía Nacional de Honduras, Juan Carlos Bonilla, ni a otras personas bajo su supervisión directa, debido a una investigación sobre presuntos abusos cometidos en el pasado. No obstante, ha trascendido en la prensa información que indica que continúa llegando asistencia estadounidense a policías que actúan bajo el mando de Bonilla. En una entrevista realizada por Associated Press en noviembre de 2013, Bonilla afirmó que recibía apoyo logístico continuo de la Embajada de Estados Unidos para operativos policiales. Al momento de redacción de este informe, el Congreso de Estados Unidos retenía aproximadamente US$10 millones de los fondos correspondientes a 2012 a la espera de que se resolvieran investigaciones sobre abusos graves.

En enero de 2013, la Relatora Especial de las Naciones Unidas sobre la independencia de los magistrados y abogados expresó que la destitución de cuatro magistrados de la Corte Suprema por causas administrativas constituía una violación del derecho internacional y “un grave atentado a la democracia”.

En febrero, el Grupo de Trabajo de Naciones Unidas sobre la utilización de mercenarios expresó que el gobierno no había regulado adecuadamente a las empresas de seguridad privada y manifestó preocupación ante su presunto “involucramiento en violaciones de derechos humanos, […] incluidos asesinatos, desapariciones, desalojos forzados y violencia sexual”.

En abril de 2012, la Oficina del Asesor en Observancia/Ombudsman de la Corporación Financiera Internacional (International Finance Corporation, IFC), el organismo de préstamo al sector privado del Grupo del Banco Mundial, inició una investigación sobre un préstamo otorgado en 2008 a Corporación Dinant, una empresa hondureña dedicada a la producción de aceite de palma y alimentos. El informe de la IFC, que aún no se había divulgado al momento de la preparación de este documento, evaluará si la IFC cumplió de manera suficiente sus propias políticas sobre seguridad y derechos humanos en relación con el préstamo, y si respondió adecuadamente al “cada vez más grave conflicto social y político” tras otorgarlo.

Fuente: http://www.hrw.org/es/world-report/2014/country-chapters/122020

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Honduras: acusaciones del Ejército ponen en riesgo a activista

El gobierno debería repudiar señalamientos expresados por un coronel

19 de Diciembre de 2013

(Washington, DC)– El gobierno hondureño expone a activistas de derechos humanos a riesgos al no repudiar los peligrosos comentarios manifestados por un alto funcionario militar, señaló hoy Human Rights Watch. Un coronel del Ejército aseveró recientemente que el trabajo realizado por Annie Bird, codirectora de la organización no gubernamental Rights Action, con sede en Estados Unidos, procuraba desestabilizar la región del Bajo Aguán, donde se han producido hechos de violencia vinculados con conflictos por tierras.

El comandante de la Operación Xatruch III, una fuerza de tarea conjunta integrada por policías y militares en la provincia de Colón, en la región del Bajo Aguán, acusó públicamente a Bird de desestabilizar la zona al “cuestionar el procedimiento de la justicia hondureña” y realizar señalamientos falsos sobre la actuación de las fuerzas de seguridad. El 12 de diciembre de 2013, el periódico La Tribuna citó declaraciones del coronel Germán Alfaro Escalante, en las cuales presuntamente manifestó: “Estamos en un proceso investigativo de una denuncia sobre una supuesta norteamericana de nombre Annie Bird, quien anda haciendo algunas labores de desestabilización aquí en el sector del Aguán, ya que se está reuniendo con algunos dirigentes de grupos campesinos”. Los comentarios de Alfaro han sido reproducidos por medios de comunicación, simultáneamente con la difusión de fotografías de Bird, de nacionalidad estadounidense.

“En Honduras, donde defensores de derechos humanos y líderes comunitarios han sido agredidos e incluso asesinados por el trabajo que realizan, las acusaciones del coronel demuestran un manifiesto desprecio por la seguridad de una activista con una larga trayectoria”, observó José Miguel Vivanco, director para las Américas de Human Rights Watch. “El Presidente Porfirio Lobo y el secretario de defensa deben dejar en claro que no corresponde a los militares investigar denuncias contra activistas, ni mucho menos difamarlos a través de los medios de comunicación”.

Según informó La Tribuna, el coronel Alfaro indicó que Bird había presionado a campesinos de la región para que se rebelaran contra las fuerzas de seguridad.

La región del Bajo Aguán, en el noreste de Honduras, ha sido escenario de prolongadas y a menudo violentas controversias por la tierra, muchas de ellas surgidas tras la reforma de la ley agraria del país en 1992. Grandes extensiones de territorio en la región han sido disputadas entre organizaciones campesinas y empresas agroindustriales, que se dedican en su mayoría al cultivo de palma africana para la producción de aceite. Según un informe del Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, 92 personas murieron en el contexto de controversias por la tierra en el Bajo Aguán entre 2009 y 2012.

Desde hace 12 años, Bird trabaja en la cobertura informativa de la situación de derechos humanos en Honduras, y ha escrito varios informes sobre el país para Rights Action.

Bird dijo a Human Rights Watch que consideraba que las declaraciones del coronel Alfaro se debían a que estaba documentando abusos que supuestamente habrían sido cometidos recientemente por miembros de las fuerzas de seguridad del Estado. El 11 de diciembre, Bird acompañó a un grupo de residentes locales hasta la Fiscalía Especial de Derechos Humanos para denunciar abusos que supuestamente estos habían sufrido a manos de miembros de la fuerza de tarea Xatruch, destinada formalmente al mantenimiento de la seguridad en la región. El 10 de diciembre, había ofrecido una entrevista a una estación de radio local, en la cual explicó que trabajaba en la documentación de abusos, que luego informaba a organismos internacionales.

Un artículo sobre los señalamientos del coronel, que se publicó en Internet, ha recibido comentarios de lectores en los cuales se realizaron amenazas de muerte contra Bird.

Las acusaciones del coronel Alfaro contra Bird se produjeron luego de un comunicado difundido el 18 de febrero por la fuerza de tarea Xatruch que incluía acusaciones similares. En el comunicado se acusó a conocidos líderes campesinos, entre ellos Yoni Rivas y Vitalino Álvarez, de llevar adelante una “campaña de desinformación bien concebida” con el propósito de “denigrar” al equipo de tarea mediante acusaciones falsas que “deterioran la imagen de la nación hondureña”. En su declaración, la fuerza de tarea instó a la “laboriosa población en general del departamento de Colón” a organizarse contra un “sector minoritario” que, según se afirmó, provocaba inestabilidad e irrespeto a la ley. La declaración se produjo luego de que organizaciones campesinas denunciaran una campaña de violencia en su contra, en el marco de las actuales controversias por tierras.

Es habitual que defensores de derechos humanos en Honduras sean objeto de amenazas y hechos de violencia, observó Human Rights Watch. Tras el asesinato en septiembre de 2012 del destacado abogado y defensor de derechos humanos Antonio Trejo Cabrera, la Alta Comisionada de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos, Navi Pillay, manifestó: “Existe un clima amenazante de inseguridad y violencia en Honduras, y los defensores de derechos humanos son blanco de amenazas, intimidación, agresiones físicas y asesinatos. La impunidad ante estas violaciones es inaceptable”. La Alta Comisionada exhortó al gobierno de Honduras a “adoptar urgentemente medidas para hacer frente a la vulnerabilidad que sufren los defensores de derechos humanos”.

Estados Unidos destinó más de US$ 50 millones de asistencia a objetivos de seguridad en Honduras entre 2010 y 2012, a través de la Iniciativa Regional de Seguridad para América Central (Central America Regional Security Initiative, CARSI)– un programa de asistencia en materia de seguridad a países de la región que aún se encuentra en ejecución– y casi US$ 17 millones de asistencia en materia de seguridad del Departamento de Defensa de Estados Unidos durante 2011 y 2012. La normativa estadounidense que prevé la ayuda militar y policial a Honduras indica que el 20 por ciento de los fondos estarán disponibles recién cuando el Departamento de Estado de los Estados Unidos informe que el gobierno hondureño ha cumplido una serie de requisitos de derechos humanos.

“En vista de su cooperación continua con las fuerzas de seguridad de Honduras, el gobierno estadounidense debería emplear todas las herramientas a su disposición para instar a que cesen las agresiones verbales de altos mandos militares hondureños contra activistas”, manifestó Vivanco. “Independientemente de que sean vertidas contra defensores de derechos humanos o líderes campesinos, tales acusaciones profundizan el clima de temor e intimidación”.

Fuente: http://www.hrw.org/es/news/2013/12/19/honduras-acusaciones-del-ejercito-ponen-en-riesgo-activista

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EUA donará a Honduras seis helicópteros militares

7 de Noviembre de 2013
06:26PM
– Redacción:
redaccion@laprensa.hn

Los seis helicópteros militares servirán para combatir el crimen organizado en Honduras.

Foto de archivo.

Foto de archivo.

 

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

 

Estados Unidos donará a Honduras seis helicópteros militares para combatir el crimen organizado, que según las autoridades locales es una de las causas de los altos índices de violencia en el país, informó hoy una fuente policial.
El portavoz de la Policía hondureña, Julián Hernández, afirmó a periodistas que el Gobierno de Estados Unidos entregará a esa institución “seis helicópteros”, que se estima llegarán al país centroamericano en febrero de 2014.
Hernández subrayó que los aparatos servirán para aumentar la “lucha frontal contra el crimen organizado”, aunque no dio más detalles de las aeronaves.
Honduras recibe cooperación de Estados Unidos a través de la llamada Iniciativa Regional para la Seguridad en Centroamérica (CARSI, por sus siglas en inglés), en el combate al crimen organizado y el narcotráfico.
El pasado 1 de septiembre, el ministro hondureño de Defensa, Marlon Pascua, informó de que su país construye, con apoyo de EE.UU., tres bases navales para el combate del narcotráfico en el Caribe.
Las autoridades hondureñas atribuyen al crimen organizado los altos índices de violencia que afectan al país centroamericano, donde a diario se registra un promedio de 20 muertos, y en 2011 registró una tasa anual de 92 homicidios por cada 100.000 habitantes, según la ONU. EFE

Fuente: http://www.laprensa.hn/honduras/tegucigalpa/417358-96/eua-donara-a-honduras-seis-helicopteros-militares

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A worthy peace offering for Honduras and El Salvador

THOUGH THEIR civil wars ended long ago, Central American countries remain among the most violent in the world. In 2011, according to the United Nations, Honduras had the highest national murder rate — 91.6 killings per 100,000 people — while El Salvador was second, at 69.2. (The U.S. rate is less than 5 per 100,000). In part, the bloodshed is a legacy of the wars of the 1980s and the weapons they left behind, and in part it is the product of international drug trafficking. According to the State Department, nearly 80 percent of the cocaine transported to the United States passes through Honduras.

A big piece of the problem, however, is wars among gangs, which in both countries have tens of thousands of members and are heavily armed. For the last 15 months, El Salvador has been engaged in a bold experiment to staunch the bloodletting: a truce among the largest gangs, brokered by the Catholic Church and facilitated by the government. The impact has been undeniable: Authorities reported that murders dropped by half in the pact’s first year, from more than 4,000 annually between 2009 and 2011 to 2,195 in 2012.

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Last week a similar truce was announced in Honduras involving two of the same gangs, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 (MS-18). Again, church leaders and the Organization of American States were brokers; President Porfirio Lobo expressed support, and a commission is to be set up to organize a dialogue between the gangs and his government.

What remains to be seen is if the truce strategy can bring about a sustainable drop in violence in the two countries. In El Salvador, the gang truce remains unpopular despite the falloff in killings. That’s because the gangs have continued to fund themselves by extorting money from businesses large and small as well as through robberies and kidnappings. In Honduras, the gangs are at war with police as well as with each other. The Associated Press has reported that police death squads have killed dozens of gang members.

What’s needed are programs that build on the truce to draw gang members into training programs and jobs. In El Salvador, President Mauricio Funes has launched an initiative in which municipalities can arrange with gang leaders to become “peace territories.” In exchange for ending extortion and other illegal activities, gang members can join jobs programs or receive loans to start small businesses. Mr. Funes has pledged $33 million to 18 municipalities so far, a substantial sum in a poor country of 6 million.

Similar programs will be needed if Honduras’s truce is to produce results — and the United States can play an important supporting role. Although the Obama administration has kept its distance from the truce deals, the administration has asked for a 20 percent increase in funding next year for its Central American Regional Security Initiative, which aims to combat crime by training police forces and sponsoring programming for youth. Given the efforts underway in El Salvador and Honduras, the added funding is worthy of congressional support.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/truces-in-honduras-and-el-salvador-deserve-us-support/2013/06/02/d24dcf86-ca17-11e2-8da7-d274bc611a47_story.html

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