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An Arms Race Looms over Central America

ISSN:1089-1560
LADB Article ID: 80312
Category/Department: Region
Date: 2017-06-08
By: George Rodríguez

The violence in Central America, which seems never to end, could be setting the stage for an arms race in the region. After fighting for its independence from Spain in the 19th century, Central American countries suffered through political armed clashes between conservatives and liberals in the early 20th century, and then through wars between armies and guerrillas. The civil wars in Nicaragua (1982-1990), El Salvador (1980-1992), and Guatemala (1960-1996) ended with peace agreements reached within the framework of the Procedimiento para Establecer la Paz Firme y Duradera en Centroamérica (Procedure to Establish Firm and Lasting Peace in Central America) signed on Aug. 7, 1987, in Guatemala. Now the showdown is taking place between national security forces and invading organized crime structures––mainly Colombian and Mexican drug-trafficking networks¬¬––and their local representatives. The drug traffickers’ upper hand in the present confrontations has led several governments to resort to military might, even though that path has not proved successful in the past: In Mexico, former President Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) led a militarization of the fight against drug cartels that disastrously claimed at least 60,000 lives and showed few results

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