Internecine Violence in Central America

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At least three countries in Central America are facing the worst of the wars for more than a decade. This is an underground war that destroys homes, shorts the future of the youth and even worse,and is destroying the institutions of the states. All of this carries the risk of turning these countries into failedstates unable to fight the scourge of violent groups. Internecine violence and the destruction of the state undermine the peace of our peoples and the human development process.

While Guatemala,Honduras and El Salvador are the most affected countries by the outbreak of internecine violence, Costa Rica and Nicaragua are also seriously affected by the problem, because of the risk that groups or gangs pass their far-reaching boundaries. Being business partners, brothers of common past and close partners all the countries of the Region are affected by the imbalances of this violence. It is not strange that the Region has for now two of the most violent countries in the world: Guatemala and El Salvador.

This entire dynamic raise some questions that require responsible answers. How did the problem of violence in the region emerged?What are the factors which feed the groups that promote internecine violence? Why states have not been able to eradicate this problem, despite the various trials implemented to date? To give answers to these questions it is necessary to understand that the root of this problem imply exogenous, endogenous and mixed causes.

Among the external factors stand out the “cultural remittances” brought from the United States, the product of the deportations of Central Americans who migrated to that country in masse after the 1980s. Also the geographic position of the region brings strategic importance as  a corridor region that draws organized crime on their way to the northern powers, especially the U.S., thus becoming a link in the chain of drug, weapons and humantrafficking. 

The endogenous causes include  a range of structural problems that have plagued the region since its birth such as inequalities in income distribution, poverty and marginalization for the majority of the population, the massive mobilization of rural to urban areas that eventually generated slums which became a favorable breeding ground for gang consolidation, corruption; also, the  changes in cultural patterns brought  by the  globalization that have led to an extreme consumerism  that demands in many  cases illegal activities to financing a so called “Americanized life  style”.

Within the mixed causes can be pointed the breakdown of traditional family patterns due to the phenomenon of migration to other countries. The family, as the foundation of society, has been overly weakened in its structure, at its core and essence; in other words, we find a modern family where there is no father, mother or both, with a weak scale of values of their younger members.

This united with the weakness of state institutions, an educational system based on quantity rather than quality and a Justice System extremely weak and saturated -as the other competent institutions- draw a favorable outlook for the internecine violence in the region, which has been difficult to wane even with extremely repressive plans, such as the Plan Mano Dura implemented in El Salvador or the Guatemalan Escoba Plan, both launched in 2002. The weak results of these planes are due to the lack of integration of such plans as these consider only the effects of the problem, internecine violence, and not its causes.

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