WHAT: Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) (formerly Meridia Initiative to counter Narcos from Mexico & Colombia)
WHERE & WHEN: Regular often-US-based gatherings. Converge with Summit of the Americas for example. The next CARSI-wide gathering is scheduled for Peru in 2018.
WHO: Prioritizes the Central American countries of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama and their relationship with US
WHAT THEY SAY IT IS: CARSI – An Integrated, Collaborative Regional Security and Rule of Law Program: The Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) responds to these threats and supplements the strategies and programs the nations of Central America are implementing on their own and in cooperation with other countries. CARSI is coordinated with other nations, international financial institutions, the private sector, civil society, and the Central American Integration System (SICA). It is a coordinated approach that draws upon the expertise and efforts of like-minded donors supporting the citizen safety goals of Central American countries.
How much money involved? $642 million in U.S. CARSI assistance since 2008, and currently, $1B proposed for program. More here.
The Five Goals of CARSI in Central America?
1. Create safe streets for the citizens of the region;
2. Disrupt the movement of criminals and contraband to, within, and between the nations of Central America;
3. Support the development of strong, capable, and accountable Central American governments;
4. Re-establish effective state presence, services and security in communities at risk; and
5. Foster enhanced levels of coordination and cooperation between the nations of the region, other international partners, and donors to combat regional security threats.
Specifically that looks like:
1. Assist law enforcement and security forces to confront narcotics and arms trafficking, gangs, organized crime, and border security deficiencies, as well as to disrupt criminal infrastructure, routes, and networks;
2. Build the capacity of law enforcement and the justice sector to serve citizens and to address regional threats; and
3. Advance community policing, gang prevention, and economic and social programming for at-risk youth and communities disproportionately affected by crime.
Their justification? Within Central America, the deteriorating security situation threatens citizen safety. Narcotics traffickers continue to establish trafficking routes to and through Central America. The continued expansion of national and transnational gangs creates communities of fear where gangs are effectively in control. Organized crime—from extortion to corrupt acts by government officials—robs citizens of confidence in their ability to earn a livelihood, provide for their families, and trust public officials for solutions.