Central American gangs (more commonly known as maras in the region) have increasingly become a security threat. What role do the armed forces play in combating this threat?
GENERAL CARLOS A. CUÉLLAR (Honduras):
“This is a problem that the police are fighting against. The constitution orders us to support the police when they are overwhelmed, at their own request. Our constitution provides that the national police can grant powers to our armed forces, at the request of the security ministry, in the event that they consider it necessary, and we are ready to provide support when it may be necessary.”
GENERAL-DE-BRIGADA FRANCISCO SALINAS (El Salvador):
“Gangs in El Salvador are quite a serious problem. They’ve specialized in crime, extortion, murder for hire, and this is what they live on. Now, the Salvadoran armed forces are supporting the efforts of the police, and at the moment we are collaborating with a contribution of around 5,000 military personnel.”
GENERAL OSCAR TAPIA (Belize):
“We have a gang problem, but not as big as in Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador. We do have some gang problems, and that is increasing the high murder rate in Belize. I think part of the problem involves narcotrafficking, and if we’re able to reduce the amount of drugs that come into Belize and the people fighting for control of the drug trade, then I believe we will be able to diminish the violence that is occurring in Belize.”