By Mimi Whitefield and Jacqueline Charles
Regional presidents, U.S. Cabinet members, the vice president and top Mexican officials will meet in Miami this week to take on some of the most vexing problems plaguing El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the battered countries of Central America’s Northern Triangle.
Drug trafficking, gang violence and other criminality have taken their toll, resulting in 50,000 murders over the past three years in the Northern Triangle, and that insecurity — combined with widespread corruption and lack of economic opportunities and development — have contributed to a massive outflow of the countries’ residents. Most of them have ended up in the United States.
The Conference on Prosperity and Security, set for Thursday and Friday, is being convened by both the United States and Mexico, a country crisscrossed by drug trafficking, organized crime and people smuggling routes…
“The focus here... is how do we stimulate private economic investments in the three Central American republics,” said Kelly, who first broached the idea of the conference during a trip to Guatemala and Mexico in February. “And the next day will focus on drug trafficking, human trafficking” and efforts to achieve a more secure Central America.
During the Guatemala trip, a senior DHS official said Kelly told him “you never get to prosperity without security.... you can’t have security without prosperity.” People are leaving Central America, Kelly said during an April speech, “because they lack economic opportunity and experience high levels of violence in their communities.”…