Monday, April 18, 2016

Who is Getting US Security Aid in Central America?

Sarah Kinosian and Adam Isacson at WOLA have a great article on the composition of U.S. aid to Central America. The get down to specific initiatives and organizations that are receiving money, such as Salvadoran Army Intelligence, about which we know almost nothing.

This increase comes as the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are ramping up drug interdiction and border security efforts, and deploying security forces—often trained in military combat tactics—onto the streets to respond to high murder and crime rates. These heavy-handed policies have generated serious concerns and allegations of excessive use-of-force and extrajudicial executions. They raise questions about whether the United States has truly broken with its history of supporting unaccountable security forces in Central America, and whether these strategies can really keep populations safe or prevent drugs from reaching U.S. streets.

Adam has been doing this sort of work for many years, and so when he writes that it's unclear who is receiving money, it's because the information just isn't there. That sort of lack of transparency obviously does not create confidence.

But what they also get at is efficacy. There is a lot of doubt about whether the money is achieving what it is intended to achieve. The problem with massive aid packages is that they funnel large sums to money to lots of different groups, without enough attention to what's working. So you may well end up with a policy that potentially damages democracy without even achieving its stated goals.


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