The Central America’s Northern Triangle has many common factors that explain their economic circumstances and violence. The root causes of poverty and crime in Central America are drug trafficking, gang activities, corruption, and ineffectiveness of U.S. policies.
Despite the continued assistance from the United States, high crime rates and homicides remain in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. As reported by the authors of the Woodrow Wilson Center Report, there have been higher demands of drugs such as cocaine by the United States. This immensely contributes to drug trafficking and violence in the Northern Triangle. In addition, gang activities, partly due to U.S. deportation policy during the 1990s and trafficking of firearms, in Central America have taken a better control of communities and neighborhoods. Thus, weak law enforcement also enables the levels of drug trafficking and gang activities to persist.
It should also be noted that an important cause of poverty and crime is corruption. The CARSI (Central America Regional Security Initiative) program, adopted by the Obama Administration, has been more concerned with the “generalized corruption and impunity within the justice system” (8, Wilson Center Report). Corruption in Central America has been more difficult to eliminate despite the U.S.’ assistance in institutional reforms. As described in “Former Honduran Cabinet member accused in U.S. of laundering drug money” article, corruption still exists. With the lack of commitment from the host government, corruption is another battle to be tackled in Central American countries.
The U.S. policy-makers should pay more detailed attention to corruption, law enforcement, to the youth gangs in communities, the host government’s commitment to attack these interconnected factors, and drug trafficking, especially with neighboring countries such as Mexico.
“CRIME AND VIOLENCE IN CENTRAL AMERICA’S NORTHERN TRIANGLE: How U.S. Policy Responses are Helping, Hurting, and can be Improved.” https://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/crime-and-violence-in-central-americas-northern-triangle-how-us-responses-are
“Former Honduran Cabinet member accused in US of laundering drug money.” http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-84666069/