The Economic Consequences of Peace and The Northern Triangle
By Beatrice E. Rangel
As I watch the unfolding tragedy in the US Southern border, I cannot repress a nostalgic flashback to 1992 when the Peace Treaty for el Salvador was signed in Chapultepec Mexico. As customary, UN mediators and warring parties signed the treaties, shook hands and patted each other on the back . Then everyone went back to their businesses.
The UN envoy to face the Bosnian challenge, the friends of Central America to their daily routine and the Salvadorians were left alone to deal with a conflict that had pitted the impoverished rural population against the landowning families for almost half a century. And however industrious, disciplined and forward thinking the Salvadorians are, the fact was and is now that they could not deal with the economic consequences of war by themselves without external aid.
The same can be ascertained in Honduras. Guatemala represents a league of its own given that the country has been taken over by a conglomerate that represents the landowners, the drug mafias and the military. Peace agreements for El Salvador and contra disengagement in Honduras were supposed to stand on three pillars.
First and utmost was responsibility for the barbarian acts of violence deployed throughout the conflict both by the state as well as the insurgent forces. This meant that impunity would not have a day. Responsibility for these crimes was to be ascertained by an independent international commission.
Second while the Salvadorian State was to recover the monopoly over the right to wage war, its army was significantly reduced, the police rebuilt and enlarged, and the insurgents gave up their arms and integrated into civic life.
Third, the international community was to create a fund to support the reinsertion into civic life of both the soldiers left without a job as well as the disarmed guerrillas. Needless to say, that the first two pillars were built and are still standing in EL Salvador as their development rested in the national jurisdiction. The third never came to fruition as there was a change of guard at the helm of the UN. Secretary General Perez de Cuellar handed over the matter to Boutros Boutros Ghaii that was more concerned with the explosion in the Balkans than with a peace process that had culminated successfully.
Salvadorians Hondurans and Guatemalans were thus left in the hands of destiny to resolve their problems that with time became chronic. These problems are institutional inadequacy to their resource endowment and lack of capacity to withstand a business that amasses the chunkiest margins of any economic activity: that of drugs trade. And as resources failed to materialize to reinvent the lives of youngsters that only knew how to wage war, they took it to the streets to form gangs that in time evolve into partners in drug and human trade.
27 years thereafter these gangs are part of a very sophisticated network of organized crime that crisscrosses the world and holds politics at ransom as it has taken hold of at least to nations in the hemisphere Venezuela and Bolivia; parts of Colombia and parts of Mexico. Under such circumstance’s violence is rampant and as violence mounts horrified parents flee to the US to save their lives and that of their children. This explains the mounting exodus of incoming asylum seekers to the US Southern border. The answer of course is not be found in a wall but in how to retake the Initiative for the Americas crafted by the George H.W. Bush administration to bring prosperity to Latin American thereby vaccinating the region from the strain of organized crime.
Published by LAHT.com on Monday, April 8th 2019
*The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author.*