The Northern Triangle of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras is swamped by corruption, governmental incompetence, skyrocketing violence, and extreme poverty.
The people are in a survival mode. If they can, they flee. Millions are now living in the US, half are undocumented.
There is no justice. The courts, prisons, and police are incapable of dealing with thousands of brutal drug gang members. There is massive impunity. Probably 95% of crime goes unpunished. Homicide rates are the highest in the world. Kidnappings and extortion are a constant threat. 90% of the cocaine flows thru the region.
Colombia has seen an incredible increase in cocaine production since they stopped aerial spraying. Colombia continues to bravely confront their internal criminal threats. They seize a huge amount of cocaine, but 85% gets out. Mexican cartels dominate the entire transnational drug criminal enterprise. Mexican Cartels are the principle criminal threat inside the US. They produce 90% of the heroin and much of the meth in the US.
There is no hope.
The US has tried. Thank God for the DEA. We have pumped $10 billion into Columbia since 1999 with Plan Colombia. More than $3 billion into Central America in ten years. However, the situation has never been worse. Poor Central America is a nightmare. There is no political will in the region. The US pays little attention to the problem. There is no hope.
Gen. Barry McCaffrey
Gen. Barry McCaffrey's comments appeared in today's issue of the Latin America Advisor. You can view his comments and others here.