HomeNewsBriefUS Continues Shift in Security Priorities With Aid Package to CentrAm
BRIEF

US Continues Shift in Security Priorities With Aid Package to CentrAm

CARSI / 4 FEB 2015 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

The US State Department has allocated most of its $1 billion request for aid to Central America towards development assistance, a further shift from the US’ previously militaristic approach to regional security, characterized by aid packages like Plan Colombia.

On February 2, the US State Department released its Congressional budget proposal for fiscal year 2016, which included just over $1 billion in foreign aid to Central American countries. According to the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), the $1 billion requested for 2016 is triple the amount of aid sent to Central America in 2014.

No less than 80 percent of the package is intended for improving civil institutions, civil society, and economic development, according to WOLA. The money requested for purely military and police assistance programs remains at 2014 levels, at roughly $16.5 million. 

At a press briefing following the unveiling of the new proposal, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resource Heather Higginbottom said the regional funding “will address the underlying social, governance, and economic factors in Central America that drove last year’s crisis in unaccompanied migration – child migration.” 

InSight Crime Analysis

The State Department’s $1 billion aid proposal to Central America reflects the US’ wider policy shift in recent years towards institutional capacity-building, rather than strengthening of security forces, as their guiding approach to improving security in Latin America. The 2016 proposal is a far cry from the heavy reliance on military and police assistance programs from previous aid packages like Plan Colombia in the early 2000s and the early phase of the Merida Initiative in Mexico in 2008. Each of these programs accounted for over 75 percent of their respective budgets, according to WOLA. The US’ current security initiative in Central America, CARSI, mixes both hard (counter-narcotic operations) and soft (community-based violence prevention programs) strategies for lowering rates of crime and violence.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Merida Initiative

The proposal also underscores the growing importance of Central America in the US’ regional security priorities. The amount of funds going towards development assistance suggests the United States is looking for long-term solutions to endemic gang violence in the “Northern Triangle” region (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) — commonly cited as a principal push factor for the child migrant crisis. Selling this angle — a sustainable reduction in the flow of unaccompanied children from Central America arriving at the US border — will likely be the best strategy for getting the proposal approved in a Republican-controlled Congress.

The aid package also indicates the United States and the Northern Triangle countries may not be as far apart ideologically in handling the child migrant crisis as once thought. At the time, it seemed the plea from the Northern Triangle presidents in November 2014 for greater US assistance in stopping the child exodus fell on deaf ears

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Related Content

EL SALVADOR / 26 APR 2016

The lawyers for José Enrique Rais, a prominent El Salvador businessman who US authorities tied to suspected drug planes seized…

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 26 AUG 2019

Illegal timber and drug trafficking are closely linked in northeastern Honduras, a major cocaine corridor in this region. There, criminal…

ELITES AND CRIME / 6 JUL 2015

The arrest, and quick release, in Nicaragua of a Honduran opposition political figure with suspected criminal links illustrates the complex…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…