Regional Security In Latin America, Caribbean


“Latin America and the Caribbean rank as the world’s most violent region,” said USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator Mark Lopes during testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“The challenges of crime and violence in the region directly impact U.S. interests and our own security. We believe that the security needs... are beyond the capability of any single nation or donor and that...coordinating and leveraging our efforts with other donors and multilateral institutions is the best path forward,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Liliana Ayalde at the hearing.

While engaging with partners in the region, the U.S. government applies a whole of government approach to the citizen security challenges in the region through the Central America Regional Security Initiative, or CARSI, and the Caribbean Basin Security, or CBSI. A myriad of U.S. agencies support both CARSI and CBSI.

Crime prevention programs are a critical component of both initiatives. Educational and employment opportunities also play an important role.

Under CARSI, USAID has provided services to close to 90,000 at-risk youth. In Honduras alone, more than 10,000 youth have taken advantage of these programs. Lopes said these programs also aim “to identify crime hotspots and propose solutions to reclaim gang-controlled public spaces and improve perceptions of insecurity in communities.”

Under CBSI, partnerships between thirteen Caribbean states and the United States help increase citizen security and promote social justice, in addition to stemming the flow of illegal drugs.

In Jamaica, USAID and the Department of State support a police reform initiative to improve the relationship between the police force and communities. Additionally, USAID has worked with the Jamaican government to support a wide revision of the financial management system that increases tax compliance. In just one quarter of 2012, this program saw an increase in revenue of more than $100 million.

Through such synergies and whole-of-government approach, CBSI and CARSI impact positively on communities and everyday lives. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Ayalde closed her testimony by noting that “It is the goal of the United States to continue to ... utilize our diplomatic and political resources, as well as our foreign assistance, to foster enhanced levels of sustained dialogue and collaboration to turn today’s citizen security challenges into catalysts for building a more secure and prosperous future for the Hemisphere.”