Wednesday, February 13, 2013

U.S. crime reduction program comes to El Salvador - Updated

Now there's been some criticism concerning the lack of US involvement in El Salvador's gang truce between the MS-13 and the 18th Street gangs. I'm sympathetic to some of the criticism. However, I'm not entirely convinced that US involvement will be helpful.

I also think that we tend to dismiss other ways in which the US is actually contributing to the potential success of the truce through a number of economic initiatives. They are designed to  help at-risk youth and promote economic growth in El Salvador but are not focused specifically on dealing with the gang truce.

Here's another story from Jacqueline Charles at the Miami Herald on US assistance.
One of Central America’s most violent countries is getting a $42 million boost to help shed its image as one of the world’s most murderous nations.
The U.S. Agency for International Development is teaming up with five foundations in El Salvador to help bring homicides and gang violence under control in 50 of El Salvador’s most dangerous communities.
The program will focus on at-risk youths and helping cities develop anti-crime plans, said Mark Feierstein, USAID’s assistant administrator for Latin America. Feierstein said this is the largest partnership in USAID history with the private sector in one country.
Unfortunately, the article really doesn't give enough information. It looks like the aid is part of the US Partnership for Growth and not something in addition to it. Who are the five foundations? What is the $42 million going to be spent on? Presumably, the money is going to be spent on job creation since this is AID but the article also talks about "helping cities develop anti-crime plans."?

The title reads "U.S. crime reduction program comes to El Salvador." Therefore, the reader is under the impression, at least I am, that it is a program that has been created and/or implemented in the United States and is now going to be tried in El Salvador.

But I have not idea if that's actually the case.


Okay, I just found more details on AID's website.
SolucionES, the five-year partnership of $42 million, will:
  • Work with five municipal councils (consisting of local government, youth leaders, civil society, churches, the private sector, and civilian police) to assess local resources and develop crime prevention plans.
  • Train communities in conflict prevention.
  • Provide youth with after-school clubs, leadership programs, and employment opportunities.
  • Offer psychological counseling in schools traumatized by violence.
  • Increase the social investment of local private companies.
The partnership is part of USAID’s Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) work and builds on the agency’s mission to foster local capacity and sustainability. The SolucionES partners include: Fundación Nacional para el Desarrollo, Fundación Salvadoreña para la Salud y el Desarrollo Humano, Fundación Crisálida, Fundación Salvadoreña para el Desarrollo Económico y Social, and Fundación Empresarial para el Desarrollo Educativo.
That's much better. So its CARSI and not the Partnership for Growth. The plan will be developed in collaboration with Salvadoran partners and not imposed from the US. And it's anti-crime but not in the security-oriented way in which it is generally thrown about when talking about El Salvador.

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