The countries of Central America’s Northern Triangle – Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras – continue to suffer from high rates of homicide and youth violence, made worse by the penetration of organized crime. The attached report, Opciones para mejorar la seguridad ciudadana y responder a la violencia juvenil en Centro América, summarizes the results of a conference organized by the Latin American Program in October 2012, with the support of the Andean Development Corporation (Corporación Andina de Fomento, CAF). Experts from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, the Organization of American States, and the City of Los Angeles, California, discussed strategies for reducing youth violence.
Guillermo Céspedes, Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles and head of the city’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development describes the vision as well as the specific interventions that that have led to a significant decline in gang-related homicides in recent years. Regional experts discuss the ambiguities and lack of transparency of the gang truce in El Salvador, which for the time being appears to have drastically decreased homicides in that country. Because so much remains imprecise about the terms of the truce, however, its replicability elsewhere in the region is in doubt. Finally, panelists discuss police reform efforts in Honduras, a country known for high rates of violence and weak institutions. The involvement of the police force in corruption, human rights abuse, and criminal activity has led to increasing demands from civil society for real and sustainable reform. Overall, the report emphasizes the need to coordinate crime and violence reduction initiatives with efforts at institutional strengthening and reform.
The full report (in Spanish) is available for PDF download below.