Oscar Bonilla, Chairman of El Salvador’s National Public Security Council, today warned the Organization of American States (OAS) Permanent Council that criminal gangs in Central America threaten democratic stability and governance in the hemisphere.
Elaborating on alliances between certain gangs and transnational organized crime, Bonilla argued that “what we have is a combination of the war experience along with drug- and human trafficking which is reaching our countries, and no one country can handle this on its own.” He said this is why the Central American Integration System is seeking to coordinate policing and border security policies as a matter of urgency.
Speaking about border problems, Bonilla described “a Guatemala under siege on Central America’s northern border,” noting it is a corridor used by gangs for human trafficking but also for weapons and drug trafficking. He added that Mexico has similarly become a platform for such activities, “complicating the border with the United States.”
Bonilla’s address to the OAS Permanent Council, made at the request of El Salvador’s Ambassador to the OAS, Abigail Castro de Pérez, noted the increasingly dangerous and sophisticated technology at the disposal of criminal groups. He also spoke about the results of Central American strategies for prevention as well as reincorporation and rehabilitation of youth at risk or on the other side of the law.
The Salvadoran official called on OAS member countries to tackle the problem as a collaborative effort, mindful of provisions articulated in the resolution issued by OAS General Assembly in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, last June, and the inclusion of a related paragraph in the a Mar del Plata Declaration issued by the hemisphere’s leaders at the end of their Fourth Summit of the Americas this past November 5.
Permanent Council Chair Ambassador Izben Williams of Saint Kitts and Nevis thanked Bonilla for his presentation, while member state delegations expressed support for programs proposed by the governments of the affected countries. They also promised to follow up on measures adopted to stem the spread of gangs across the region.
During the same meeting, the Secretary General of the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI), Ambassador Didier Opertti, addressed the Permanent Council on “The ALADI of Today: its relations with the OAS.”