Background Notes: Central America, September, 2011

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SWAP Implementation

Celac aspires to be a unique voice and structured decision-making policy decisions in the political and cooperation in support of regional integration programs. It was created with a commitment to advance the gradual process of regional integration, unity and carefully balancing political,economic,social and cultural diversity of Latin America and the Caribbean of million people.

Since its launch in December ,the CELAC has helped to deepen respectful dialogue among all countries in the region in areas such as social development, education, nuclear disarmament, family farming, culture, finance, energy and the environment. After two years of work, the CELAC has encouraged Latin American and Caribbean vision itself as a community of nations, capable of dialogue and consensus building on issues of common interest.

CELAC takes its faculties to act as spokesman for the Community with other countries and regional blocs. The next summit was held in Cuba in Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St.

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Vincent and Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago. Uruguay and Venezuela.

North America

What purpose this mechanism created for? In order to promote regional integration and sustainable development, political cooperation, regional comprehensive agenda in forums: position the region to events of international scope; Promote dialogue with other States and regional organizations; Promote regional and subregional institutions for cooperation and communication between organizations, etc.

What is the way they work and how do they chose to work well? During its first year, which developments have been the best and in what field were they? During the Pro-Tempore. An agreement to provide a forum for cooperation with China, strengthen ties with India, the meetings with the Russian Federation, the Republic of Korea, the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, Turkey was established, we take note of the progress in the dialogue on regional integration. During the year there have been around 15 meetings of various materials that were considered at the Summit.

What topics were discussed and what were the results of these were preparatory meetings? In terms of police reform, the Honduran government has undertaken efforts to implement a vetting and reform process for the National Police, but it has faced many difficulties along the way, such as lack of resources and political opposition. The general public also lost confidence in past attempts at institutional reforms as only lower-level police officers were removed or purged.

In January , President Juan Orlando Hernandez announced that the Special Commission for Police Reform Restructuring will extend its mandate until , allowing it to continue to purge unsuitable elements from the police force in an unprecedented manner. The move is considered politically strategic as the general elections are planned for the end of Progress on purging the police was initially very slow with only a small fraction of the hundreds of police officers who failed the tests being dismissed.

Some police officials also tried to derail the process by declaring that the law was politically motivated. In recent times the process has gained traction as a result of the productive collaboration between the Secretary for Security and the Special Commission for Police Reform Restructuring in removing unsuitable police officers of all ranks. The reform process is also supported by the Police Restructuring Law of ratified in which requires every police officer to reveal their financial records and submit to polygraph, toxicological, and psychological tests. If an officer fails these tests, he or she is to be automatically dismissed.

Moreover, the current Police Organic Law is set to be reformed. The replacement is currently in final deliberation, with the next step being ratification. This new entity is expected to be called the Direction for Disciplinary Issues of the National Police. In parallel with this process, a new Law on the Police Career System is also close to ratification. Both laws will impact the future course of the security sector reform process.

In particular, the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs INL has been providing training and assistance to justice actors, including: police; prosecutors; defence attorney; judges; and, civil society to promote legal rights awareness, the rule of law, professionalization, respect for human rights and accountability. CARSI has focused less on taking on sweeping reform measures, though, and more on increasing the capacity of forces to bolster citizen security. Mixed police and military units patrol in urban areas and in border zones, although the police are in charge of arresting suspects.

Since , the partnership has aimed at increasing the strategic and investigative capacity of the Secretary of Security to implement their nation security policy. Now in its second phase , the SDC-IDB partnership seeks to step up support for the national community policing programme. The Directorate for Police Investigations DPI has been one of the main beneficiaries of this partnership and has now developed a modern internal manual standardising the criminal and forensic investigations processes for integration into training programmes.

DPI also has a plan for specialised training in criminal and forensic investigation techniques, which extends to the ITP. Moreover, several DPI officers travel to Colombia and Chile to receive further specialised training with the goal of being able to multiply their new skills set in their national environment. This has given the institution a sense of internal and external credibility. Toward that end, reducing corruption, improving institutional transparency, and upgrading the technical capacity of judges and prosecutors is critical.

The issue of judicial independence, while essential, cannot be solved through judicial reform alone; political polarisation and the politicisation of institutions are endemic problems that have plagued the Honduran government for many years.

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Engaging in this issue would be extremely difficult. However, there has been notable progress on improving judicial oversight.

This consists of the Supreme Court, the Public Ministry, Interior Ministry and the Office of the Attorney General, among other bodies, and is designed to increase efficiency within the justice sector. Similar inter-institutional commissions are now being formed in key municipalities such as San Pedro Sula as a means to ensure greater collaboration. In January , the government created a special task force to address violence against vulnerable sectors of society, such as journalists and LGBT individuals. In the following month, the Congress passed constitutional reforms that created the Council of the Judiciary and Judicial Career.

This new body, whose five members are elected by Congress, is tasked with appointing and dismissing judges. In June , despite strong private sector opposition, the Honduran government passed a security tax in an attempt to increase the revenue available for the security sector. Also in , Honduras created an inter-institutional Transparency Anti-Corruption Plan for Building on this initiative, the government of Honduras signed an agreement with Transparency International in to produce reports on the status on the fight against corruption in Honduras, in collaboration with the civil society group Association for a more Just Society ASJ.

In January , Congress passed a constitutional amendment to allow extradition of citizens for serious crimes such as drug trafficking and organised crime. More recently in , congress approved of a law to modify the National Penitentiary System Law to give it more autonomous and decentralised powers. The original law mandated the creation of the National Penitentiary Institute Instituto Nacional Penitenciario - INP and established a professional civil service career for prison guards and staff, and required job training.

Congress also passed laws related to terrorism which prescribe for penalties for acts of vandalism during social protests and increased sentences for acts of extortion. The proposed law, which will be a key document for security and justice provision, includes some proposed articles which are facing fierce opposition, including from the Supreme Court of Justice who has recently struck down an article which sought to lessen the sanctions for state security providers who cause bodily damage, including death, during operations.

Until , the military and police forces were grouped under the same ministerial control. Both institutions continue to share similar working models reflective of this conjoined period. Not regarded as a dominant military force by regional standards, the Honduran defence sector is ranked on a scale of on the Global Firepower Index rating.

Of its neighbours, only Guatemala ranks higher placed at Key to the transformation was the glut of petrodollars that grew with rising oil prices, coinciding with the end of the Bretton Woods system of currency controls. That money sought profitable outlets, and one was as loans to Latin American countries. The foundation was set for the hemispheric wave of debt crises beginning in In the s, militaries across the hemisphere engaged in brutal campaigns against peasants, including many indigenous groups.

After its curtailment in the s, US security assistance ballooned in the s. Scholars and investigative journalists have documented the degree of US awareness and even encouragement of abuses. In addition, the United States returned to the oldest form of intervention in the s and s, abrogating the sovereignty of Grenada, Haiti, and Panama by military invasion.

Beginning in the late s, new legal restrictions from Congress attempted to limit assistance to gross violators of human rights, but exceptions still abound. Strict prohibition in the United States made narcotics extremely lucrative and fed money laundering and real estate speculation. The composition of elites in Latin America began to shift, particularly with the massive windfalls attendant to privatization of state-held infrastructure and assets in the s.

No longer concerned only with domestic affairs, Latin American elites joined a transnational class of investors, and their relationship to local security concerns shifted as well.

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Suppression of urban and rural worker militancy gave way to suppression of political protests against new frontiers of accumulation, particularly resource extraction through mining or logging or the construction of hydropower dams. At the same time, the safety threat posed by narco-violence was used to justify new forms of accumulation, with, for instance, the social cleansing of downtown Ciudad Juarez through large-scale gendered violence opening the possibility of urban revitalization and gentrification.

For decades, the diagnosed threat was organized labor or communist guerrillas, whose aims entailed curbing capitalist exploitation. The heirs of these groups remain targets, with US security assistance aiding the killing of environmental activists and US personnel involved in the killing of civilian bystanders in Honduras , for example.

Latin America

Indigenous populations also remain highly vulnerable , particularly as ongoing commodity booms render their land and subsurface areas increasingly profitable to multinational speculators. Nominally, the bulk of US security assistance now is oriented toward suppressing narcotics.

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  7. Today, however, this perceived threat and the interests of the ruling faction merge, with transnational rentier capitalists and cartel leaders pursuing the same goals of extraction- and finance-oriented profit-making, with logistics of legal and illegal forms of accumulation fully entangled. The decline of the so-called Pink Tide, the left-leaning governments in the hemisphere, continues, and right-wing leaders rising in power across Latin America often maintain close links to each other, as well as to their own militaries and intelligence agencies.

    Alongside these transformations, the same logic that connects military and industrial interests still obtains. Its intensity and centrality to capitalism have only deepened, with security assistance and outright war making itself as a primary guarantor of corporate profitability on a global scale.

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    Yet cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, and other drugs from Latin America remain widely available. The long counterrevolution continues, but hope for its conclusion is not extinguished. If the long counterrevolution does flicker to a close, it will have been defeated country by country, as well as transnationally, just as it grew.

    Stuart Schrader is lecturer and assistant research scientist in the Department of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University. This book demonstrates the deep links between Cold War counterinsurgency efforts by US security officials to upgrade police in the third world and domestic police reforms that manifested as the "war on crime.

    Security Sector Stats

    Stuart was a Dissertation Proposal Development fellow. Social Science Research Council. The SSRC is an independent, international, nonprofit organization. It fosters innovative research, nurtures new generations of social scientists, deepens how inquiry is practiced within and across disciplines, and mobilizes necessary knowledge on important public issues. Support the SSRC.