Jin Kuhnhenn at the Associated Press writes about immigration, narcotics wars and gun trafficking In Central America, Obama's worries closer to home. In the story, he writes
Obama also prodded the region to fight poverty, lauding countries that have pushed more of their population into the middle class.While connected, I do hope that Obama's visit refocuses US-Central American relations on poverty reduction rather than trade, democracy promotion, immigration, and drug trafficking, etc. It's not that we should neglect the other issues. I just think that it would be helpful to re-frame our approach to the region.
"We'll never break the grip of the cartels and the gangs unless we also address the social and economic forces that fuel criminality," he said Monday.
- How can we improve our trade relationship so that it better reduces poverty?
- How can we work together to strengthen democracy in El Salvador so that its government is more responsive to the needs of the poor?
- How can we design an immigration system that is more humane and, in the medium- and long-term, reduces the the factors that drive immigration from El Salvador (i.e., poverty)?
Tracy Wilkinson focuses on drug trafficking in El Salvador in Mexican drug cartels making ugly mark on Central America and El Salvador becomes drug traffickers' 'little pathway'.
Police and intelligence sources say several businessmen and mayors are on the traffickers' payroll and serve as their money launderers...
Law enforcement officials say the exorbitant drug profits flow mostly to the same small group of businessmen and political elite who have always controlled this and other Central American nations.I thought these two lines from Wilkinson's second article were important because we usually read about crime and violence in El Salvador linked to the MS-13 or M-18. Given the polarized political system in El Salvador, I imagine some regional or US-backed assistance would really be helpful (maybe even necessary) in going after businessmen, elites, politicians, and military and police officials involved in drug trafficking.
Tim Johnson focuses on the moderate and pragmatic Funes in Leftist leader steers middle course for McClatchy. In it, he cites several analysts and political figures who are pleased with Funes' moderate approach to politics.
"Funes has done well," said Carlos A. Rosales, a former Cabinet member in previous right-wing governments. "Many people like myself were mistaken. We thought he'd be a pushover" for hard-line former guerrillas.According to opinion polls, seventy-plus percent of all Salvadorans support Funes. While it's true the public supports Funes, I don't get the impression that the more radical members within his coalition (who want closer relations with Chavez, Ortega, and the Castros, etc.) or those on the right are willing to endorse his governing style.
"This is a guy who's in the middle," Rosales added. "I think he's done a good job, and I'm not the only one. Look at the polls."
While the murder rate declined marginally last year, Funes has three more years to deliver in order to convince others that a more moderate center-left / center-right approach to politics is in the country's best interest. I am thinking something like Chile's post-Pinochet governments perhaps rather than Lula/Rousseff in Brazil.