July 3, 2008 German Institute of Global and Area Studies
Central America has the reputation of being a violent region with high crime rates, youth gangs, drug traffic, and ubiquitous insecurity. Politicians, the media, and social scientists in and outside the region often claim that the societies are in complete agreement with their judgment of the situation and that all society members are calling for law and order and social segregation. Focusing on Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, the paper analyzes the social perception of violence and crime. On the basis of essays written by secondary school students and interviews with citizens from all walks of life in the three countries, the paper points out how elite arguments on violence and crime are translated into
everyday life, and what society members suggest be done to deal with these problems. The sources prove that there are noticeable hegemonic discourses on violence and crime in Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Simultaneously, a majority of the respondents call for social and integrative solutions rather than the so-called “iron fist.” The repressive trend in Central American policies therefore does not necessarily receive the presumed affirmation asserted by many authorities on and in the region....
May 12, 2008 University of Ottawa // Paris, Roland
The United Nations and other international agencies conducted three major post-conflict peacebuilding operations in central America in the 1990s: in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. Like the many other international peacebuilding missions that were deployed during the 1990s, the operations in Central America aimed to assist local actors in the implementation of peace settlements after civil wars, and more generally to create the conditions for what UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called a 'stable and lasting peace,' or a peace that is likely to endure for the foreseeable future. Peacebuilding, in other words, is more than merely the supervision of ceasefires among former combatants. According to both Annan and his predecessor, Boutros Boutros Ghali, the overarching goal of peacebuilding is to eliminate the underlying sources of conflict in a war-shattered state, in order to reduce the likelihood of renewed violence....
January 2, 2008 German Institute of Global and Area Studies
It has become common to state that youth gangs and organized crime have seized Central America. For theories on contemporary Central American violence, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua present important test cases, demonstrating the need to differentiate the diagnosis. First, national discourses on violence differ from country to country, with varying threat levels, patterns of attention, and discursive leitmotivs. Second, there are border-crossing discursive nodes such as the mara paradigm, the perception of grand corruption, and gender-based violence tied to cross-national, national or sub-national publics.
The paper explores the ambiguity and plurivocality of contemporary discourses on violence, emanting from a variety of hegemonic and less powerful publics....
In societies undergoing democratic transition,
as in those with stable democracies, civil authorities
and the army are social actors involved in conflict
and in its resolution within the structure of the
state. Civil-military interaction is governed by the authority
that comes from the framework of legal precepts
that weigh on military institutionsxe2x80x94precepts
that subordinate them to legitimately constituted civil
The encounter between civilians and the military
is also an equation of power. Conflict is inherent to
civil-military interaction and levies a requirement for
negotiation. In private, civilians and the military use
negotiation and diverse methods of persuasion to
develop laws and policies regarding national defense.
Nicaragua represents one case in which the interaction
between civil authorities and the military
occurred after negotiations and a peaceful transfer
of power ensured the stability of military institutions
and established a basis for civil-military relations in
harmony with democracy....
Between 1979 and 1990, two important transitions
took place in Nicaragua. The first occurred
after Anastasio Somoza's dictatorship came
to an end. The second occurred after the Sandinista
National Liberation Front's electoral defeat. Although
both events took place under conditions of
violence and war, elections and negotiations were
key to the outcome. These two events determined
Nicaragua's advance from being a State completely
lacking established institutions to one of emerging institutionalism.
Still, progress has not fully reached all
of Nicaragua's institutions, namely, political parties
and those that deal with justice or the resolution of
such issues as poverty.
Nicaragua continues to be a society where politics
depend on "bosses." However, the great successes
in the pacification of Nicaragua are due to
the significant transformation in the nature of coercive
power. The State now exercises the power the
Army and police previously wielded....
Freedom House welcomes the vote by the United Nations General Assembly to elect Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina for the two open seats for Eastern European States in yesterday's election to the UN Human Rights Council. Belarus, the third candidate for the East Europe vacancies, was defeated in a tight race following a vigorous campaign by numerous human rights organizations and countries opposed to the candidacy of a country with one of the world's most abysmal human rights records.
December 18, 2006 Inventory of Conflict and Environment
The armed conflicts that burdened Nicaragua during the Sandinista Revolution (1974-1979) and the Contra War (1979-1990) caused a multitude of problems in the country. Environmental problems were part of both the causes and consequences of the armed conflicts. Inequality of income distribution and increasing poverty were the primary causes of the revolution, but indirect environmental causes included destruction of hardwood forests, elimination of wildlife habitats, and toxic waste dumping. During the Contra War, the Sandinista government not only faced extreme economic problems stemming from United States economic sanctions but it also faced a variety of environmental problems including landmines hidden throughout the country, pesticide runoff, and soil erosion....
Nicaragua is a country overwhelmed by its history. Since colonial times, Nicaragua has suffered from political instability, civil war, poverty, foreign intervention, and natural disasters. Successive governments have been unable to bring political stability or significant economic growth to the country. Personal and foreign special interests have generally prevailed over national interests, and repeated foreign intervention in Nicaraguan political and economic affairs has resulted in nationalistic reactions and a legacy of suspicion of foreign governments and their motives....
February 10, 2006 United Nations // United Nations Children's Fund
Nicaragua has a population of 5.1 million and an annual population growth rate of 2.7 per cent; 53 per cent of the population is under 18 years of age. Nicaragua's main challenge is to overcome inequity and poverty, which affect children and women most severely. The breakdown of income distribution shows that 45 per cent of all income goes to the richest 10 per cent of the population, while only 14 per cent goes to the poorest. Nicaragua is the third poorest country in the Americas, with a per capita gross national product of $453. Poverty affects 2.3 million persons, 831,000 of whom live in extreme poverty, mainly in the Central and Atlantic regions....
The Sandinista National Liberation Front (Frente Sandinista de Liberacixc3xb3n Nacional--FSLN) was formally organized in Nicaragua in 1961. Founded by José Carlos Fonseca Amador, Silvio Mayorga, and Tomxc3xa1s Borge Martxc3xadnez, the FSLN began in the late 1950s as a group of student activists at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (Universidad Nacional Autxc3xb3noma de Nicaragua--UNAN) in Managua. Many of the early members were imprisoned. Borge spent several years in jail, and Fonseca spent several years in exile in Mexico, Cuba, and Costa Rica. Beginning with approximately twenty members in the early 1960s, the FSLN continued to struggle and grow in numbers. By the early 1970s, the group had gained enough support from peasants and students groups to launch limited military initiatives....
Dans la perspective d'un développement durable, en vue d'un monde plus juste et équitable, le Centre de solidarité internationale (CSI) travaille ici Ã mettre en xc5x93uvre des actions de solidarité internationale avec la population du Saguenay - Lac-St-Jean et Ã réaliser un travail d'ouverture sur le monde, notamment auprxc3xa8s des jeunes et outre-mer Ã soutenir des programmes de coopération qui #permettent Ã des communautés de pays du Sud d'acquérir les moyens techniques, matériels et humains pour prendre en charge leur propre développement....
Despite the centrality of state action to an understanding of state-society contentious interaction, disaggregated data on repression and accommodation is either poor or nonexistent. PIWAR investigates the causes and consequences of state tactics (repression and accommodation) and opposition activity in post-revolutionary states in four post-revolutionary states: Bolivia (1952-1964); Cuba (1959-1971); Iran (1979-1991); Nicaragua (1979-1991).
June 7, 2011 Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces
The Examples from the Ground are concrete illustrations of ways in which a gender perspective has been integrated in different security sector institutions around the world. They range from measures to counter human trafficking in Kosovo, to women’s organisations’ involvement with security institutions in Nepal, to female parliamentarians’ contribution to post-conflict reconstruction in Rwanda. These examples can help policymakers, trainers and educators better understand and demonstrate the linkages between gender and SSR.
The examples are organised around the following nine themes, for which a short introduction is provided:
• Police Reform and Gender
• Defence Reform and Gender
• Justice Reform and Gender
• Penal Reform and Gender
• Border Management and Gender
• Parliamentary Oversight of the Security Sector and Gender
• National Security Policy-Making and Gender
• Civil Society Oversight of the Security Sector and Gender
• SSR Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation and Gender
Individual examples can also be downloaded individually, in English or in French, at: http://gssrtraining.ch/index.php?option=com_content&view;=article&id;=4&Itemid;=131〈=en...
February 17, 2010 Committee to Protect Journalists
At least 71 journalists were killed across the globe in 2009, the Committee to Protect Journalists announced Tuesday, the largest annual toll in the 30 years the group has been keeping track.
Twenty-nine of those deaths came in a single, politically motivated massacre of reporters and others in the Philippines last November, the worst known episode for journalists, the committee said.
But there were other worrisome trends. The two nations with the highest number of journalists incarcerated — China had 24 journalists imprisoned at the end of 2009 and Iran had 23 — were particularly harsh in taking aim at bloggers and others using the Internet. The number jailed in Iran has since jumped to 47, the committee said. Of the 71 confirmed deaths, 51 were murders, the committee said. The report noted that 24 additional deaths of journalists remained under investigation to determine if they were related to the journalists’ work. Previously, the highest number of journalists killed in a single year was 67, in 2007, when violence in Iraq was raging....
Because of their growing membership and globalization, urban youth gangs have become a public security threat that must be addressed. Gangs once provided outlets for marginalized youths to socialize, control territory, and release aggression. More recently, some have evolved into informally affiliated international criminal networks. Two predominantly Hispanic gangs -- Calle 18 and Mara Salvatrucha -- began to proliferate in Los Angeles during the 1960s and now have fraternal links to some 130,000 to 300,000 members in Mexico and Central America and have expanded across the United States to major cities and rural communities on the Eastern Seaboard. Gang activities range from defending neighborhood turf to armed robbery, extortion, alien smuggling, and arms and drug trafficking. Gangs provide a handy supply of young collaborators for organized crime. Their transnational nature is facilitated by fluid migration across porous national borders, incarceration with experienced criminals in U.S. prisons, and the weak rule of law in Mexico and Central America. Although no hard evidence links them with terrorist networks, transnational gangs are a potential menace to the stability of North American neighbors of the United States....
The 110th Congress has maintained a keen interest in the effects of crime and
gang violence in Central America and its spillover effects on the United States. Since
February 2005, more than 2,000 alleged members of the violent Mara Salvatrucha
(MS-13) gang have been arrested in cities across the United States. These arrests
have raised concerns about the transnational activities of Central American gangs,
and governments throughout the region are struggling to find the right combination
of suppressive and preventive policies to deal with them. Some analysts assert that
increasing U.S. deportations of individuals with criminal records to Central American
countries may be contributing to the gang problem.
Several U.S. agencies have been actively engaged on both the law enforcement
and preventive side of dealing with Central American gangs. An inter-agency
committee worked together to develop a U.S. Strategy to Combat Criminal Gangs
from Central America and Mexico, which was announced at a July 2007 U.S.-Central
American Integration System (SICA) summit on security issues. The strategy, which
is now being implemented, states that the U.S. government will pursue coordinated
anti-gang activities through five broad areas: diplomacy, repatriation, law
enforcement, capacity enhancement, and prevention.
During the first session of the 110th Congress, several Members introduced
immigration legislation – H.R. 1645 (Gutierrez), S. 330 (Isakson), and S. 1348
(Reid) – that included provisions to increase cooperation among the United States,
Mexico, and Central America in the tracking of gang activity and in the handling of
deported gang members. However, none of those bills were enacted. On October 2,
2007, the House passed H.Res. 564 (Engel) supporting expanded cooperation
between the United States and Central America to combat crime and violence. The
Consolidation Appropriations Act, FY2008 (H.R. 2764/P.L. 110-161), included the
provision of $8 million to the State Department to combat criminal youth gangs, $3
million more than the Administration’s request.
In June 2008, Congress appropriated $60 million for Central America in the
FY2008 Supplemental Appropriations Act, H.R. 2642 (P.L. 110-252). Those funds
will serve as initial funding for the Mérida Initiative, a new anticrime and counterdug
aid package for Mexico and Central America. With that funding, the State
Department reportedly plans to use roughly $13 million to support direct anti-gang
efforts, with another $4 million included for justice sector reform, $8.6 million for
police reform, and $18 million for related development programs.
This report describes the gang problem in Central America, discusses country
and regional approaches to deal with the gangs, and analyzes U.S. policy with respect
to gangs in Central America. It will be updated periodically. For more information
on the Mérida Initiative, see CRS Report RS22837, Merida Initiative: U.S. Anticrime
and Counterdrug Assistance for Mexico and Central America. For information on
the activities of Central American gangs in the United States, see CRS Report
RL34233, The MS-13 and 18th Street Gangs: Emerging Transnational Gang Threats....
September 16, 2008 En la Mira - The Latin American Small Arms Watch
Although all countries, in theory report their authorized transfers - and
such information may even be available in certain public databases - the
task of providing an overview of SALW transfers, their parts and
munitions, is an arduous one. Nonetheless, despite the difficulties, we
have some extremely positive initiatives on a global scale, such as for
example, the Small Arms Survey, recognized as an important source of
information, especially on SALW production and transfers, as well as the
Norwegian Initiative on Small Arms Transfers (NISAT) which has a
database containing transfer records going back to 1962.Despite these
important initiatives, themselves when researchers, activists and policy
makers try to understand a regional market, such as Latin America and
the Caribbean, they encounter a dearth of information. With the intent of addressing this shortcoming, En La Mira has, since 2007, dedicated an
issue to transfers of SALWs, parts and ammunition in this region. Further, according to statistics from the United Nations Commodity Trade
Statistics Database (UN-Comtrade or Comtrade), USD 6.7 billion were
exported between 2004 and 2006, while USD 6.5 billion were imported.
Despite the fact that Latin America and the Caribbean represent 6% and
3%, respectively, of total transfers worldwide during this period, 42% of
firearms related homicide is committed in the region. This discrepancy
between the international transfer volume share and the levels of armsrelated
violence in Latin America and the Caribbean calls attention to
itself, above all because of the tragic and startling number of homicides.
Obviously, far from wishing to increase arms transfers in order to be more
in sync with homicide rates, we decided, a year ago, to study this issue
and periodically monitor its development based on our interest in
understanding the primary legal entry and exit routes of firearms and
ammunition. The result is a report - based on customs information as
stated by Latin American and Caribbean countries and their respective
partners - whose objective is to describe the movement of the SALW
imports and exports, as well as ammunition and parts, during the present
decade. Based on this data, we answer the following questions: who
exported and who imported? From whom? What? And when?
It is worth restating that the intent of this report is not to explain the
cause of arms imports and exports by Latin American countries. Beyond
merely providing information, we do indeed wish to awaken, by means of
the information presented here, the curiosity of other researches, activists
and government staff members such that they may continue to perform research in their countries regarding the transparency of this information,
on who is using the transferred SALW, and how.
The data used for this report came from the NISAT database, which
contains more than 800,000 entries for SALW transfers worldwide since
1962. The NISAT database gets its information from different sources,
COMTRADE among them. In this study we decided to restrict ourselves
to data from this latter source because, in theory, all countries report
transfers to the UN. This data is declared in accordance with the
Harmonized System (SH) merchandise classification system. The HS has
existed since 1988and, in 2007, was revised for the fourth time; previous
revisions were in 1992, 1996 and in 2002. Regarding the period analyzed,
we are looking at data up until 2006, since at the time the study closed
this was the most recent year available on NISAT....