TEGUCIGALPA -- US Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs William R. Brownfield along with U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens met with Honduras President Porfirio Lobo and signed a Letter of Agreement pledging an additional $1.75 million for Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) programs on Wednesday. The funding supports efforts by Honduran law enforcement to improve border and port security, prison management, and community policing programs focused on reducing gang-related violence.
According to the US State Department, these efforts include training programs in which the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Border Tactical Unit (BORTAC) shares security strategies with the Honduran Frontier Police.
The money is part of the $200 million that the US is paying to Central American countries for the fight against drug trafficking. Brownfield told reporters that the money will be for the seven countries of Central America -- Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.
Touring a training site in Nido de Aguilas, Assistant Secretary Brownfield, Ambassador Llorens, and Honduran Secretary of State for Security Oscar Alvarez discussed prison reforms — including those aiming to separate the worst offenders from the rest of the prison population — as a major focus of U.S.-Honduran cooperation.
Assistant Secretary Brownfield praised the Government of Honduras for its commitment to improving cooperation between agencies, including the Armed Forces, the Public Ministry, and the Secretariat of Security, in their fight against criminal networks that threaten the security of citizens in Honduras and throughout Central America.
"By partnering with Honduran law enforcement agencies, the United States aims to boost anti-drug trafficking efforts, promote citizen safety, and help young people find alternatives to joining gangs," said the State Department spokesman.
Brownfield, a former US Ambassador to both Venezuela and Colombia, also met with officials in Guatemala and El Salvador earlier in the week. He is accompanied by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson.
"Assistant Secretary Brownfield’s visit will demonstrate U.S. support and encourage continued partnership between the U.S., the governments of Central America, and other international donors to improve citizen security in the region," said the State Department spokesman.
In Guatemala, Brownfield met with President Alvaro Colom, Minister of Government Carlos Menocal, Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz, Police Reform Commissioner Helen Mack, Congressional leaders, and other members of the Guatemalan government to discuss a renewed strategy to improve citizen safety in the region. They also visited the municipality of Mixco and met with Mayor Amilcar Rivera to discuss the U.S.-supported Model Police Precinct program.
In El Salvador, Brownfield met with Salvadoran Vice Minister of Justice Henry Campos, Prison Director Douglas Moreno, Police Commissioner Carlos Ascensio, and Attorney General Romeo Barahona to discuss ongoing efforts to build law enforcement capacity in El Salvador. They visited the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) as well as the Transnational Anti-Gang headquarters, two locations at which the United States is assisting regional efforts to dismantle transnational criminal organizations.
In Honduras, Brownfield met with Secretary of State for Security Oscar Alvarez and participated in a Bilateral Central American Regional Security Initiative (Merida/CARSI) Task Force meeting co-chaired by U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens and Honduran President Porfirio Lobo Sosa. They discussed efforts by both governments to jointly address the deteriorating security situation, including targeted assistance programs such as the dispatching of U.S. advisors to strengthen Honduras’ investigative and prosecutorial capabilities.
Brownfield next travels to Colombia -- where he was the former US Ambassador -- and where he will meet with the Prosecutor General Viviane Morales, Commander of the Armed Forces Admiral Edgar Cely, and Director of the Colombian National Police General Oscar Naranjo. During these meetings, Assistant Secretary Brownfield will thank Colombia for its contributions to regional security and explore avenues for enhanced regional cooperation, taking into account lessons learned in Colombia. Secretary Brownfield will also visit a U.S.-supported anti-drug program designed to educate students about the effects of drug trafficking and consumption.