Insecurity in Central America Organized Criminal Gangs and the Maras
Diana Villiers Negroponte, Author and Nonresident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
Institute for International Education

NEW YORK, NY—On Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at the Institute of International Education, Diana Negroponte, WFPG Board Member and nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution, discussed her publication The Merida Initiative and Central America: The Challenges of Containing Public Insecurity and Criminal Violence. The book is about the Merida Initiative which was developed two years ago to address the issues of drug trafficking and criminal gangs plaguing Mexico and Central America. The Initiative, which provides these governments with US experience and expertise working with gangs, initially focused on equipment and technology. However, recently, the focus is shifting to prevention and intervention programs, an approach – which combined with improving law enforcement resources – had great success in Plan Colombia.

Dr. Negroponte’s book focuses on the Northern Triangle of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras where the rate of homicide is increasing by about 17% annually. In her assessment of the regional homicide statistics, she stressed that “each of those numbers matters” and should not be dismissed as mere data but considered in terms of mothers and fathers. Dr. Negroponte also focused on the inefficiency of the legal system and the lack of popular confidence in the justice system and police. She noted the significant challenge of reinstating the public’s trust in rule of law, given the years of preferential treatment of the wealthy and well-connected. However, she pointed out that Colombia was able to increase the trust of its citizenry by making a “major national commitment to strengthen their law system to a full egalitarian system.”


IIE Executive Vice President Peggy Blumental

Author, Diana Villiers Negroponte

Diana Negroponte and WFPG Director of Operations Kimberly Kahnhauser