Central America has faced decades of political insurgencies and revolutionary upheaval. Today the countries of the region continue to face serious threats in the forms of drug and arms trafficking, gang violence, and the trafficking of persons.
The widespread availability of firearms in Central America, including those trafficked into the region, has resulted in increased use in the commission of crimes. The continued expansion of national and transnational gangs has created communities of fear where gangs effectively control entire neighborhoods. Organized crime robs citizens of confidence in their ability to earn successful livelihoods and to trust in their public officials for solutions to their problems.
In response to the deteriorating security situation, the U.S. and the countries of Central America have established the Central America Regional Security Initiative, or CARSI. CARSI's goals include creating safe streets; disrupting the movement of criminals and contraband within and between the nations of Central America; and supporting the development of strong, accountable Central American governments. In addition, CARSI strives to re-establish effective state presence and security in communities at risk and foster security and the rule-of-law coordination between nations of the region.
CARSI is designed to stop the flow of narcotics, arms, weapons and bulk cash generated by illicit drug sales and to confront gangs and criminal organization. To date, the U.S. has contributed 165 million $ to support law enforcement and security forces in the region. U.S. aid seeks to enhance the capacity of public security, law enforcement, and justice institutions. And finally, resources are also committed to assist community policing and gang prevention efforts, as well as programs for at-risk youth.
During a meeting in March with Central American leaders in Guatemala City, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "The U.S. is committed to citizen safety in Central America... We are doing everything we can in the fight against corruption and impunity, in providing the equipment and the support that law enforcement and the military require, helping to build civil society to stand against the scourge of drug trafficking."