US Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield has announced a package of programs to combat crime and drug trafficking in Honduras, as part of a tour aimed to bring "concrete" anti-crime plans to the region.
The assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement arrived in Honduras Sunday, and will travel to Guatemala on Tuesday.
In Tegucigalpa he signed an agreement with President Porfirio Lobo to donate $2.2 million to anti-gang programs in Honduras via the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI). This includes the introduction of community policing techniques, and programs to provide training to young people, to get them into work and out of gangs.
Some of these funds will go to a police Model Precinct Program being launched in the capital's San Miguel neighborhood. This program involves trying to "overhaul" the operations of the police station, with training and random vetting of officers, according to the US Embassy.
Brownfield attended the presentation of 30 motorbikes to Honduras' police force, many to be used by the San Miguel force, reports El Heraldo.
Brownfield told local media that he was "optimistic" about bilateral cooperation with Honduras, and that "it will produce, in the not too distant future, strong institutions that make drug traffickers look for other routes."
InSight Crime Analysis
Brownfield announced his trip to the region earlier this month, saying that he would meet with representatives of Central American governments to discuss "concrete and specific" programs to cut crime. His words suggested that the US was responding to frustration among Central America's leaders with US action against drug trafficking in the region, saying that the governments of El Salvador, Guatmala and Honduras “have all the right in the world to tell the international community that the time for talks has passed, the time for action is here.”
This seems to be, in part, a response to recent moves by Guatemalan President Otto Perez to bring the issue of drug legalization to the table.
On his arrival in Honduras, Brownfield said that Perez's proposals on drug liberalization would "not work" to combat organized crime.
Brownfield's visit come days after Perez held a conference on drug reform, which Lobo and Salvador's Mauricio Funes both backed out of at the last minute. At the conference, Perez fielded various proposals which suggested his desire for more US aid to the region. As well as controversial proposals on decriminalizing drugs, he suggested that the US start compensating governments for every kilo of cocaine seized in the region.
The State Department has asked Congress for $107 million for the region via CARSI in financial year 2013.