Economic costs of violence in Central America reached $6,506,000,000 dollars, equivalent of 7.7% of the area’s GDP

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Foreign News Report

The National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers (NAFBPO) extracts and condenses the material that follows from Mexican and Central and South American on-line media sources on a daily basis. You are free to disseminate this information, but we request that you credit NAFBPO as being the provider.

El Heraldo (Tegucigalpa, Honduras),  El Nuevo Diario (Managua, Nicaragua) 2/4/09
“Gangs buy heavy weaponry” (full transl.)
The heavy weaponry which the violent gangs purchase with funds from extortions, kidnappings and drug sales is a cause for worry to Central American authorities, who have redoubled efforts to combat them.
“The gangs or “maras” of the region are buying weapons on the black market with illegal funds which they get from extortions, kidnappings, sale of drugs and collaboration with the cartels” said Oscar Bonilla, director of the National Council of Public Security. (“CNSP”)
The Transnational Anti-gang Center located in San Salvador has redoubled efforts with the isthmus countries police to prevent the weapons traffic through border blind spots.
Bonilla emphasized that “there is worry at the regional level because an increase in violence is being seen and, as in El Salvador, the gangs have accumulated industrial weapons.”
Police in El Salvador got evidence that the gangs had acquired heavy weapons in September by the seizure of a shipment of weapons which had four assault rifles: two AK-47, an M-16 and a G-3, besides a light antitank weapon (LAW). The five gangsters were arrested who were transporting the arms for the purpose of attacking a maximum security prison in Zacatecoluca, in the center of the country.
According to authorities, gang members used heavy caliber rifles and police uniforms in the murder of six persons last week in rural areas of Quezaltepeque and Nejapa, some 30 kms. from the capital.
According to the CNSP at least one million arms circulate in the black market in Central America.
According to the CNSP director, in Central America “gangs originated from the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras) and they already operate in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, where levels of violence are increasing.”
Bonilla commented that “the effectiveness of the criminal justice system and the greater regional coordination have pressured the gangs which now move from one place to the other.”
The United States began the disbursement of the first Merida Initiative funds which for the present year means some 80 million dollars for Central America, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
A study produced by CNSP experts determined that in 2008 the economic costs of violence in Central America reached 6,506 million dollars, equivalent of 7.7% of the area’s GDP.
Businesses and families invested 1,238 million dollars to protect themselves with barbed wire, special locks, padlocks, doors, reinforced window grilles, construction of walls and electrified fences. 
According to official estimates, between 90,000 and 100,000 gang members operate in Mexico and Central America, mainly in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, most of them alienated youths, many of them deported from the United States. 


La Hora (Guatemala City, Guatemala)  2/4/09
–     “The wave of violence lashing Guatemala ended a total of 433 lives in the first month of 2009.”  This is a 25% increase in comparison to the same month last year.
–     (Following is the introductory paragraph of the main editorial):
“It matters little”
We are convinced that the most serious problem that affects Guatemala is impunity because it breaks down the rule of law, and feeds all the vices which affect us, above all, violence and corruption.
Regrettably, we see that this matters little to the country’s inhabitants, perhaps because in reality it’s no less comfortable to live in the middle of a widespread anarchy and disrespect for the law, because when forceful actions are undertaken to attack the problem, then the few reactions seem to be against those who set forth the solution and in defense of those who cause the evil.
El Universal  (Mexico City)  2/4/09
Organized crime has focused on police agencies. Yesterday two were attacked and resulted in one death and two injured. Twenty-nine police officers have so far been murdered this year.
Ciudad Juarez went through its most violent day of the year yesterday: there were seventeen execution-style murders in 24 hours.
Norte  (Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua)  2/4/09
The death tally in Juarez and its neighboring lower valley area is setting new records: up until Tuesday afternoon (3rd) there have already been 31 homicides in 72 hours. Last year the total for the entire month of February reached 46.
Cambio de Michoacan  (Morelia, Michoacan)  2/4/09
“Mexico, Failed state”  – full transl. –
The recent declarations of Mr. Barry McCaffrey, ex antidrug prosecutor of the United States, have caused an understandable discomfort among some politicians, opinion writers and Mexican pseudo intellectuals of questionable capability, impartiality and good sense.
Full of holy ire, it was impossible for them to digest such prophecies coming from a “representative of imperialism.” How dare he compare Mexico, a country such as no other, with entities such as Pakistan? They denied what is evident with a stream of condemnations and half truths.
McCaffrey summarizes the somber panorama like this: “The Mexican state is engaged in an increasingly violent, internal struggle against heavily armed narco-criminal cartels that have intimidated the public, corrupted much of law enforcement, and created an environment of impunity to the law. Thousands are being murdered each year. Drug production, addiction and smuggling are rampant. The struggle for power among drug cartels has resulted in chaos in the Mexican states and cities along the US-Mexico border. Drug related assassinations and kidnappings are now common-place occurrences throughout the country.”
Rounding out this picture, Jorge Castaneda, another storm bird, in his January 14, 2008 article in “Reforma”, claims that Mexico is beginning to be compared in the mind of the United States with a failed State, comparable to Pakistan. Castaneda cites a paragraph from the Joint Command Forces of the United States: “In terms of the worst scenarios for the Joint Forces and even for the entire world, Mexico and Pakistan must be objects of consideration as two large and important states susceptible to a sudden and rapid collapse.”
Evidently no one liked such a statement. But let us be honest and exercise a bit of self criticism. Mexico, a country with corrupt structures to the marrow, looted by PRI party administrations, managed totally wrong by Fox, adrift by Calderon’s paralyzing fear; this Mexico of Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana, Sinaloa and Michoacán, is it really a “state of law”?
Narcotraffic has already infiltrated more structures than we believed, let us look at any newspaper stand and we’ll note that we already have an “objective” national daily and a weekly both dedicated full time to discrediting the Mexican Army, to slant news and to give voice and platform to various non-governmental organizations of dubious financial resources, to protest any action taken against narcotraffic and to sling mud at anyone who might represent a danger to their best interests. Who funds them? Their readers? I doubt it.
The Mexican state shows structural weaknesses for many years now. The key weakness, and not just for the present, is its corrupt system of the application of justice, its incompetent police, its unprepared prosecuting attorneys and its incapacity to apply the law and guarantee the safety of the citizens. The thousands of dead due to the violence prove it.
The foregoing, plus the known infiltration by organized crime into the police command high levels, support the theory that the Mexican state is collapsed from years ago, since the time the anti-drug czar General Rebollo was discovered as an accomplice of one of the criminal cartels in the 90’s, and if that wasn’t enough the case of Mr. Mariano Herran has been uncovered, who, in case anyone has forgotten, was the successor to General Gutierrez Rebollo on that job. On Tuesday January 27 “Milenio” publishes a note about Michoacán: “The narcos sell protection to the commune farmers” and emphasizes: “Organized crime has penetrated Mexican agriculture, not only to convince the farmers to grow marihuana or poppy; now the narcotraffickers ask the Michoacán farmers for protection quotas.”
Is there rule of law in Michoacán?
The attachment shows Pres. Calderon with a group of clowns labeled “Cabinet.”

The ragged fellow indulges in a Spanish language play on words that makes his question :
 “And you, what are you here for?” sound almost exactly like “And you, Pakistan?”

– end of report –




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