U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently called for greater private contributions toward drug enforcement efforts in Central America at a recent conference on issues in that region. Secretary Clinton pledged more aid would come from the U.S., but asked that the privileged contribute more to society throughout Central America.
Wealthy should give ‘fair share,’ says Clinton
Secretary Clinton recently attended the two-day Central America Security Conference in Guatemala City, Guatemala, and the major topic of discussion was the “War on Drugs.” During the conference, according to the Christian Science Monitor, Clinton pledged that the U.S. would continue to deliver financial aid to Central American countries for drug enforcement, but that citizens in those countries would have to start contributing of their own accord.
Clinton also stressed that the wealthy and large corporations in the region should also be contributing toward national security efforts. She remarked that national security is not something that can be “funded on the backs of the poor,” according to Bloomberg. She also pledged nearly $300 million in aid for Central American countries.
Tax revenue part of security struggle
The wealthiest people in Central America don’t contribute toward tax revenues that fund security forces. Former Vice President of Costa Rica, Kevin Casas-Zamora, asserted that since the wealthy do not receive or ask for government services including security, they don’t pay taxes. A “wealth tax” is currently in place in Colombia, and a similar law is being proposed in El Salvador.
Alvaro Colom, president of Guatemala, said at the conference that raising taxes is important, but there should be more direct aid from the Americans. Guatemala’s government manages to raise only 11.8 percent of gross domestic product in government revenue, compared to 25 percent in other Latin American countries.
Trying to counter well-funded organized narco-criminals is not easy when a country can’t afford an army or police. However, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, wealthy citizens apparently have no problem paying for protection. Corporations and rich individuals spend more than $1 billion annually on private security in Central America.
Drug war taking heavy toll
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime recently reported that El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala were plagued by drug gangs battling for supremacy in the cocaine trade. The cost of crime in Central America is estimated at $6.5 billion per year. The UN lamented that income inequality in those areas is comparable to the world’s poorest countries, making it nearly impossible to restrict drug gangs and crime. In the past six years, an estimated 79,000 people were murdered in drug violence, making Central America one of the most dangerous regions of the world, according to BusinessInsider. Criminal gangs are better financed than the military and police forces that oppose them, as narco-gangs are engaged in one of the most profitable enterprises available in that part of the world.
Christian Science Monitor: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2011/0624/US-boosts-funds-to-fight-Central-American-drug-crime
Sydney Morning Herald: http://www.smh.com.au/world/drug-crime-threatening-whole-region-un-says-20110624-1gjk4.html
Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/mexicos-drug-war-sends-central-america-spiraling-into-lawlessness-2011-6
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