6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center

Improving Citizen Security in Central America: Options for Responding to Youth Violence

Webcast available

Webcast Recap

Cynthia J. Arnson's introductory remarks: 

We all know the dismal facts—that the countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala have the highest murder rates in the world, including the highest rates of youth violence

That the presence of organized crime groups has worsened the already alarming crisis of citizen security, in which gangs play a central role

That the region’s fragile institutions, and incomplete processes of reform following the end of internal armed conflicts have provided a fertile context in which crime and violence flourish

And that Central America does not exist in a vacuum.  Its fate is deeply connected to the dynamics of migration and organized crime, in which Mexico, and the proximity of the region to the largest drug market in the world, the United States, play central roles

What is less known are the efforts of courageous, determined individuals and organizations, a number of them represented here today, to make a difference in their countries and their communities, in addressing the root causes of violence and improving the capacity of state institutions to combat violence and uphold the rule of law.  These efforts are not easy.  They are risky and threatening.  We applaud your courage and thank you for your efforts.



  • Dr. José Miguel Cruz

    Director of Research, Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC), Florida International University, Miami
  • Carlos Hernández

    Executive Secretary, Association for a More Just Society (Chapter of Transparency International in Honduras)