Obama Commits $200M to Help Central America Fight Crime

By Dschabner

Mar 22, 2011 8:00pm

From David Kerley, Jon Garcia and Jose Cohen:

President Obama is wrapping up his Latin America trip with a commitment of $200 million to try and help Central America “to confront the narco-traffickers and gangs that have caused so much violence in all of our countries.”

At a joint news conference with El Salvador’s President Mauricio Funes, Obama said the effort will be coordinated across the region.

“Instead of the old donor-recipient model, we’re working as partners,” he said.

“So rather than the United States coming in and saying, here’s the best way to do things, what we want to do is to hear what are the respective challenges that each country is facing,” Obama said.

The money will be used for policing, security and judicial systems, but it will also have a social component. The U.S. president then quoted his Central American counterpart.

“He said we don't want a young man in El Salvador or a young woman in El Salvador to feel that the only two paths to moving up the income ladder is either to travel north or to join a criminal enterprise,” Obama said.

President Funes said Central America needs to learn lessons from Mexico and Columbia, which have been battling drug cartels.

“Unless we take away from the criminals the fertile soil that they have found in this region, and this fertile soil is thanks to the fact that we have a lot of youngsters that are living in a situation of poverty and social exclusion,” Funes said.

President Obama noted that two million Salvadorans live and work in the United States. The two Presidents talked about immigration reform and new consumer reforms established in the United States to protect Salvadorans who send money home.

– David Kerley, Jon Garcia and Jose Cohen

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