Efforts to fight crime and violence in Central America received a major boost this week following billions of dollars in pledges from international donors and multilateral institutions.
World Bank regional vice president Pamela Cox announced more than US$1billion in financial and technical assistance to tackle insecurity in Central American countries at the International Conference in Support of the Central American Security Strategy held in Guatemala.
Cox noted that each country will be able to use these funds to address their most pressing crime and violence related issues. She explained that the Bank’s technical expertise will be offered mostly to strengthen national institutions.
"Protecting and promoting public safety has become a development priority for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and, consequently, for the World Bank," Cox noted.
Other key players also chipped in. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that Washington's contribution to Central America’s security would be increased to US$300 million this year. The IDB also said it would increase its assistance to US$500 million.
On the world map of crime and violence, the narrow territory of Central America would amount to the size of all of South America or Europe. With an average of 14.257 homicides per year—nearly 40 a day— the Central American region has become one of the hardest hit by crime in the world, with countries like El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras showing the highest per capita homicide rates in Latin America.
Attempting to reverse this situation and tackle the issue of crime and violence on several fronts, Guatemala is hosting the International Conference in Support of the Central American Security Strategy, an unprecedented meeting of all Central American Heads of State and the Presidents of Colombia and Mexico, the U.S. Secretary of State and senior officials of the European Union, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Organization of American States, the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, and the World Bank.