U.S. Army photo by Spc. Steven K. Young
Central America continues to receive counter-narcotic and security assistance from the United States as these six countries suffer from the institutional inefficiency of their national security forces while remaining crucial transporting routes for regional drug trafficking organizations. Honduras, my case-study region, has become dependent on the transnational security assistance provided by the United States that has financed the militarization of their security forces while simultaneously earning the reputation of possessing the highest homicide rate in the world. The violence attributed by gang activity, narcotrafficking, and social discontent within an unstable democracy continues to prevent social peace from emerging in Honduran cities and districts. Because of this region’s territorial complicity in the transnational trade of lucrative drugs and gang crises, Honduras and the rest of Central America receive foreign assistance from the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), funded by the United States. This regional commitment not only unites those countries who are participating in reducing Central America’s social violence, but also their role in holding their regional neighbors accountable for using this as a financial resource that prioritizes security development and not the institutional mismanagement of national police forces.
This multilateral initiative signaled that the United States trusted the capacity of Honduras’ security institutions in being able to combat the drug trade effectively and reduce rates of social violence with greater financial and military assistance over the coming years. However, this came into effect between 2008 and 2009 with no mention of what the consequences would be for Honduras if officials from their security forces violated human rights or engaged in misconduct. The absence of accountability measures were immediately questioned because this country has a history having their police forces infiltrated by cartel bribery and was recently created in 1998 apart from the jurisdiction of the armed forces. Police corruption in Honduras, that has resulted in police violence and complicity in criminal behavior, is alarming many members of the United States Congress since the original intentions of creating safer streets and robust security institutions are failing to provide desired results. Honduras, who recently elected a new president dedicated towards further militarizing the state, deserves an effective, sensible, and accountable form of counter-narcotics assistance and strategic design that is concerned with the impact and repercussions of CARSI’s implementation. Despite the rise in narcotic seizures and arrests of MS-13 and Barrio 18 gang members since its implementation, the social peace it was designed to help introduce is experiencing obstacles that are rooted in the corruption that has not been addressed.
My concern for this capstone proposal paper is addressing this question: How is corruption produced within Honduran security forces and how does it place limitations on CARSI being able to reduce levels of social violence? The fourth goal stated on the United States’ Department of State’s webpage on CARSI is “re-establishing effective state presence, services, and security in communities at risk” because Honduras, in particular, has a history of institutional corruption complicating its governance (U.S. Department of State, September 2nd, 2015). In addition, it allocates some of its financial package towards assisting security forces to confront narco-trafficking and disrupt criminal infrastructure. This multilateral initiative was designed to create safer streets and disrupt organized crime, not to support conditions where 230 police officers deceive lie detector tests out of the more than 400 that were screened in 2013 (El Heraldo, October 4, 2015). The implementation of CARSI and its effect over the years has only been developing alongside an unfortunate slow and steady rate of violence and police criminality that is questioning the impact these security forces are really receiving. Evidence that assisted my analysis of the correlation between Honduras’ rate of social violence, police corruption, and the years CARSI has been in effect has been gathered from both primary and secondary sources, ranging from the country’s national autonomous university’s findings, the congressional findings on behalf of the United States, and the Honduran national newspapers that have been documenting this unfolding state crisis.
Through the perspectives of Honduran citizens, non-citizens expanding this research, and opinions of scholars, the troubled history Honduras has had in purging the corrupt elements of its government and managing of certain institutions is acknowledged and prevents CARSI from effectively assisting in the combat against the regional drug trafficking. Unfortunately, the arguments on both sides debating the continuity and termination of CARSI remain biased because those who remain cautious of its operations have to acknowledge its success of slowly reducing crime rates while the other side has to accept the great delusion it has brought after seven years of overseeing this transnational security alliance. With the subject being “Status of Funding for the Central American Regional Security Initiative”, Chairman and co-chairman of the Caucus on the International Narcotics Control in the United States Senate reported that CARSI funds come from International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement, Economic Support Fund, Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining and Related Programs, and Foreign Military Financing (Government Accountability Office, September 10, 2015). This web of financial distribution complicates the ability to trace them to local and certain national police stations and to see if it is mismanaged or finances any misdeeds. Another limitation seeking to understand the mismanagement of CARSI is the difficult task of measuring the impact an individual police officer’s acts of corruption can have on achieving the objectives of this multinational counter-narcotic initiative. This remains neglected and poorly investigated on behalf of the government of Honduras, one of the least transparent in the world, and is a serious impediment to the progress CARSI can be helping this country’s security sector can achieve.
In this paper, the institutional corruption police criminality creates and the ineffectiveness it produces will be discussed as CARSI’s progress is evaluated and the recommendation for more explicit measures of accountability to become instituted is proposed. Within the deconstruction of CARSI’s security principles, the rates of social and police violence will continuously be compared and criticized in order to provide more insight into the questioning of the root causes that breed corruption in these institutions of public security. There appears to be no existing theory directly theorizing about the corruption of national security institutions other than the conversation on good governance and how its nature of accountability would be essential for the partnering of cross-border counter-narcotic strategies. CARSI has gained a responsibility in providing greater oversight over Honduras’ institutional crisis because of the funds it has committed transnationally. Sadly, two years after its initiation, the Honduran Minister of Security in 2011, Oscar Alvarez, denounced the National Police for having “converted into ‘aviation controllers’ for the narco-airliners, that brings drugs from South to North America…”, contradicting the intended results of this foreign policy (Hondureño Radio Nacional, November 11, 2015). Whether the primary concern is disrupting organized crime or supporting the creation of a safer social environment, the continuous funding of CARSI should be thoroughly re-approached and halted until Honduras and their North American security counterparts can devise a regulatory framework that will institute accountability and consequences for failing to provide a promised reality of safer citizen security. This multilateral initiative funded by the United States can only really begin achieving standards of progress when corruption is purged from the very security forces that have vowed to protect their citizenry before the law some of them betray and devalue.
The complete version of my senior capstone proposal can be viewed in the following link: