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IDB, governments of Central America, SICA and the international community prepare citizen security strategy for the region

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and senior officials of the US Department of State, the international community and the Central American Integration System (SICA) discussed the progress of the Regional Security Strategy that countries are developing and coordination mechanisms for the fight against insecurity in Central America.

The meeting included Arturo Valenzuela, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs of the United States, Julissa Reynoso, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Central America and the Caribbean, Juan Carlos Sanchez, Director General for Latin America of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain, Juan Daniel German, Secretary General of SICA, Ruben Beltran, Assistant Secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean of Mexico, Carlos Raul Morales, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, and from the IDB, Julie Katzman, Executive Vice President and Gina Montiel, Director for Central America, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, among others.

"Last June, the Central American presidents found that security was a critical issue for the welfare and prosperity of Central Americans," said Katzman. "The Bank wants to support countries in tackling this challenge, which is the main problem in the region."

According to UNDP Human Development Report for Central America, the region has the highest homicide rate in Latin America, 33.6 per 100,000 habitants, equivalent to three times the world average and exceeding the Caribbean, whose rate amounts to 28.8, with 24.8 for Andean countries and 10.9 for the Southern Cone.

Given the magnitude of the problem and the transnational nature of crime, Central American governments and the international community are preparing a security strategy that aims to align the multiple actors with the identified priorities, integrate and complement regional efforts, facilitate interagency coordination and manage financial resources jointly.

During the meeting, Arturo Valenzuela noted that this phenomenon requires a comprehensive, regional and international response to address needs in the short, medium and long term. This strategy will help recalibrate cooperation and contribute more effectively in resolving this issue, Valenzuela said.

The meeting presented the priority components of the strategy including reducing crime, violence prevention, rehabilitation, reintegration and prison security, institutional strengthening with emphasis on justice and technological innovation to provide an effective response.

This is the first meeting of the Group of Friends for American Security, composed of representatives of Germany, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Spain, Finland, Germany, Italy, Israel, Japan and Mexico. Also in attendance were officials of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE), the World Bank, the European Commission, the Organization of American States (OAS), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United Nations Program (UNDP).

Central American governments were represented by Guatemala, which currently holds the Presidency Pro Tempore of SICA and will host the Summit of Presidents and the International Conference for Central American Security to be held in June. In this event the Regional Security Strategy will presented along with the portfolio of projects and estimated costs for implementation.

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