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LiveAtState: Civilian Security in Central America


Remarks
William R. Brownfield
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Washington, DC
March 28, 2013

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This transcript is also available in  Spanish.

This video is also available with closed captioning in English and Spanish on YouTube.

PETER VELASCO: Welcome to Live at State, the State Department’s interactive format, on the Internet and by video, to dialogue with the international media. And welcome also to those of who are joining us. My name is Peter Velasco and today I am in the studio with the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Mr. William Brownfield. Today he will be answering your questions about his recent visit to Honduras and Costa Rica, as well as about civilian security cooperation under the Central American Regional Security Initiative. Welcome, Secretary. I’m not sure if you would like to begin with a few words about your recent visit?

WILLIAM BROWNFIELD: Of course! Thank you very much, Peter. Good day, and good day to all of the listeners and audience as well. Look, Peter, as you know, because we were talking about this before the program began, I recently returned from a visit to Central America last week. I had the pleasure and honor of visiting the Republic of Honduras for two days, and then two days later in the Republic of Costa Rica. It was an excellent visit, from our point of view, because I had the opportunity to speak with the governments and also with representatives from NGOs, from civil society, from the business community and from the media to clarify and define with more precision our programs supporting Central America in its efforts to establish better security for their communities, for their ordinary citizens. And for me it was an opportunity specifically to try to respond to the criticisms from the last few months from people who say that we are militarizing the war on drugs. And during this visit, I had the opportunity to visit anti-gang programs for youth, programs for women, victims of sexual or gender-based violence, opportunities to visit model police stations in communities, to see how the community can serve at the forefront of our programs. In other words, an opportunity to show the balance, the breadth of the United States’ assistance programs in Central America.

PETER VELASCO: I would like to remind you all that you can if you would like to submit questions, you can do so at the bottom part of the window entitled ‘Questions for the State Department Official’. If at any time during our discussion you have problems sending your questions, you can send them to us via email at live@state.gov and you can also follow us, if you would like more information about the State Department, you can follow us on Twitter at @INLBureau and also @USAenEspanol. You can also follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/StateINL. We’re going to start with the first question. You’ve spoken to us a bit about your visit, but can you tell us what were the results of the visit to Central America? What are the next steps?

WILLIAM BROWNSFIELD: Very good question, and I can, perhaps, mention two or three of the main objectives and, in my humble opinion, the results of the visit. In Honduras I had the opportunity to sign a new agreement or bilateral accord with the Honduran acting vice president -- between Honduras and the United States -- in which we establish, and our government commits to support, a new task force for major crimes. In English, a ‘Major Crimes Task Force’ for police authorities in Honduras. The idea is to provide investigative training to the police so they can respond to crimes that most affect local communities and ordinary citizens of Honduras. Second, in Honduras, I had the opportunity to visit a program that we call GREAT, whose initials stand for ‘Gang Resistance Education and Training’ for youth. And this program, which began in El Salvador a couple of years ago, is a program for youth aged 9-15 that offers them education, better options for youth who are particularly vulnerable to the, let’s say, allure of gangs in Central America. In Costa Rica I had the opportunity to visit the Central Office of the National Police, the Fuerza Publica, as it’s called in Costa Rica. I visited the establishment of a new statistical computerization program for police, something we call COMPSTAT. It’s a program that already exists in all of the police forces in the biggest U.S. cities, including here in Washington, which gives the police the chance to monitor criminal activity by computer in their area or jurisdiction, to ensure the correct deployment of police in communities, on the streets and in affected areas. And finally, as I mentioned, there is an NGO called ‘Paniamor’ (Bread and Love), which is an NGO dedicated to the safety of young women, the most vulnerable social groups, and there we are contributing to a program to establish evidence collection centers for victims of sexual violence in three different places in the republic. The truth is, we had four very positive results during the visit.

PETER VELASCO: Very good. Continuing a bit with Honduras, Dagoberto Rodriguez from the paper La Prensa and Centinela Economico de Honduras asks, ‘Mr. Brownfield, what is your opinion of the police force purge in Honduras and whether the slow advancement of this process is an obstacle to fighting crime and violence in Honduras as well as the war on drugs that the United States leads alongside the Honduran government?’

WILLIAM BROWNFIELD: Yes, good, Dagoberto, that’s a very good question, and of course the question’s hypothesis is absolutely correct. In Honduras, as in any of the 194 countries currently represented at the United Nations, a police force penetrated by corruption or by lack of competence is a problem, of course. The police should represent and respond to their communities, and if the police force has been penetrated by criminal elements or by corruption or by lack of competence, it is less capable of responding to the community and protecting the community. The purging process is a very long process and requires, of course, training, selecting new police, a process of expelling incompetent police or corrupt police, and it’s really the mission of a whole generation. The program that we have in Honduras at this time is supporting this years-long process and at the same time working with a few select, specialized and trustworthy units made up of people chosenfor their honesty and incorruptibility, using technology to ensure that they work in an honest way, and having them work,, for example, on anti-gang activity with the FBI, oranti-narcotics with the DEA. This new unit that I just mentioned, the Major Crimes Task Force, [is similar to ones] that work for police departments throughout the United States. There is one already at work on Honduras’ border, the border police working alongside the U.S. CBP (Customs and Border Patrol). . In other words, the ordinary citizen has the right to demand some form of police support while he waits for the the national police to be purged, a process that could take five or ten years. The idea is for a policy operating on two levels, one involving capacity building and purging of the ranks, and the other to work with the specialized, trusted units to achieve positive outcomes for communities here and now.

PETER VELASCO: And following this topic a bit, Luis Alonso from AP asks us, or says, ‘Honduran authorities indicate that all police units report to their director, Juan Carlos Bonilla, both as per regulations and in practice. How can the State Department comply with the Leahy Law while giving money to Bonilla, whom the Honduran government did not fully investigate on charges of homicide and enforced disappearance?

WILLIAM BROWNFIELD: Look, the hypothesis of Luis’ question is also correct. Of course, the Director General of the National Police of Honduras is responsible for the entire national police force of Honduras, exactly as in any other organization in any other country in the whole world, or in any other world, although I don’t know if there are police forces on other planets at this point. But that does not mean that all of the police, all, I don’t know how many, 15 or 16,000 members of the National Police of Honduras, report directly to the Director General. The truth is that our calculations show that there are about 20 officers or officials that report directly to the Director General, and the others, of course, as in a pyramid, report to officers and officials lower down the line. So, where do we start? We start with the current situation in which there are accusations, reports, and insinuations about wrongdoing involving the director of the National Police. The United States government has not yet reached a conclusion about these reports, but the three offices responsible for the investigation—our embassy, the Bureau for Human Rights and the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs have not made a final determination about the correctness, let’s say, of these reports. Meanwhile, because I am responsible for security assistance programs, we have to work with the National Police. In other words, if the criticism is that the National Police needs professionalization or reforms, or should respond to the needs of the communities that suffer from nearly 100 homicides per 100,000 residents each year, we have to work with that institution. The option is that if we don’t work with the police, we have to work with the armed forces, which almost everyone accepts to be worse than the police in terms of the mission of policing, or communities take matters in their own hands. . In other words, the law of the jungle, in which there are no police and where every citizen is armed and ready to mete out justice. These are the three options, and although the National Police may have its defects at the moment, it is the lesser evil of the three available options. Luis, what we have done at this time is accept that the United States government, in accordance with its obligations under the Leahy Law, will not work with the Director General of the National Police. We have no relations with him; we don’t give him so much as a dollar or even a cent. And we have also severed any ties with the level immediately beneath him, the 20 officers or officials who work directly with the Director General. We don’t work with them either, in order to give two degrees of separation to any program that we support with the National Police, in order to ensure that there is no contact with the Director General. But beneath this level, of course, we work with the National Police. We work on training and professionalization programs. We also work on programs such as GREAT for youth and children in Honduras who are trying to resist the gangs in their community. We work with trustworthy units, selected for their honesty and professionalism, to respond to crimes in Honduras. That is the answer. It is complicated, but in my opinion we absolutely, totally and completely comply with our legal obligations under the Leahy Law.

PETER VELASCO: OK, continuing once again with this topic, Juan Bautista Vasquez of Radio America asks, ‘Mr. Brownfield, what has been achieved up to today by the U.S.-supported program for preventing and fighting drug trafficking in Honduras?’

WILLIAM BROWNFIELD: Look, I would say, if you’ll allow me to use the metaphor of the greatest sport in the world, baseball. I would say that at this moment in our efforts in Central America, we are maybe in the second or at best third inning right now. The game has begun, the pitcher is pitching quite well, but unfortunately we let five runs get past us in the first inning, and now the other side is winning five to three, or something like that. But I use this metaphor to indicate that it will be years before this problem is solved. It’s a problem that took two or three decades to develop in Central America, due to the successes of the international community and our support to Colombia in the 1990s and the beginning of this century. And the successes of the last six years by the international community’s support to Mexico, under the Merida Initiative, since 2007. And the impact produced by these two successful initiatives has been the transfer of much of the focus of the activities and operations of the massive criminal drug-trading organizations to Central America. There is success; there is progress, without a doubt. Each special unit established in Honduras or in other Central American countries is a success that will gain currency in the years and years to come. Each professional training conducted will gain currency in the years to come. Each interdiction, each detention, each capture of a plane or a boat on the high seas is progress in the area, and I am still extremely optimistic about this, for one simple reason, Peter. The truth is that we don’t have to build a paradise in Central America in order to be successful in these efforts against the illegal drug trade in Central America. The only thing that we have to do is increase the cost to traffickers by 10 to 15% during the coming years, and when we achieve this the drug traffickers themselves will follow market law, the law that applies to the entire planet, and they will look for new routes, other areas to traffic their product. And that is totally viable, feasible in my opinion, within the next two or three years. That’s the reason for my optimism in Central America at this moment.

PETER VELASCO: And let me remind you all that you can follow us on Twitter at @INLBureau and @USAenEspanol or on Facebook at facebook.com/StateINL. Another question also from Luis Alonso from AP. He would like to know how much annual aid does the U.S. give to Honduras police?

WILLIAM BROWNFIELD: To Honduras? Look, our budget for the entire Central American region is $85 million. That was the amount for 2012, and the amount approved by the U.S. Congress in its continuing resolution approved about a week and a half ago.. So, the total is $85 million, of which two thirds is distributed to what we call the three countries of the northern triangle in Central America: Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. And that suggests that 60-65% is distributed between those five countries [sic]. But, to complicate matters more, I also use some of my global budget for aviation. For example, helicopters that support interdiction activities in Honduras. And I suppose that the easiest answer to give Luis Alonso is to say that at the end of last year, 2012, we notified Congress of our 2012 budget, in other words, from last year, which was a total of $36 million for Honduras. That’s the 2012 appropriation. Of this figure, if I remember correctly, 26 million was related to programs specifically for Honduras. The majority of which, but not all, is for the National Police, and the Congress approved all of it except about $11 million, which is still being withheld. In other words, it is held by Congress pending the Appropriation Committee’s resolution of a few points. That’s more or less my figure. It would be $26 million in 2012, of which $16 million are already available for programming and between $10 and $11 million are being held by Congress at this time.

PETER VELASCO: Jordi Zamora asks, ‘after your recent visit to Honduras and Costa Rica and your aid announcements, Mr. Brownfield, what new message will President Obama bring to the CARSI Summit?’

WILLIAM BROWNFIELD: That’s a good question… an exceptionally good question, because it allows me to confirm something that I hope all of our listeners already heard about yesterday, the announcement from the White House that the first week of May the United States president will visit the region. He will visit Mexico and then Costa Rica. In Costa Rica, of course, he will have the opportunity to speak with the Costa Rican government and its excellent president Laura Chinchilla, but he will also have the opportunity, of course subject to the Costa Rican government, to speak with representatives and heads of other regional governments as well. My hope, of course, is that in those conversations they will speak about assistance from the United States and the rest of the international community for the Central American region. I hope they willspeak about the balance of this aid, to discuss not only the security elements, which are important, without a doubt. A country that suffers from a homicide rate of nearly 90 per 100,000 residents -- to put that in perspective, the United States, a country considerednot to be the most peaceful and non-violent country in the world, our homicide rate is a little less than 5 per 100,000 residents -- a country with nearly 90, in other words, has a rate that is 18 times, 1,800% higher than the U.S. homicide rate. And it is my hope that the U.S. president, during his visit, will discuss security assistance programs to train, reform and improve the professionalization of police institutions, and also economic programs, social assistance, education, public health. Hopefully he will also discuss support programs for youth, to increase and encourage their abilities to resist joining the gangs that affect the region. Hopefully they will also discuss institutional support for detention and correctional facilities, for investigators, public prosecutors and defenders, courts… In other words, not just the police but rather all of the elements within the legal and judicial institutions in those countries. Hopefully he will also addresscooperation between the seven Central American governments and the possibility of having training centers not just for one country but for five, six, or all seven countries. That’s what I hope for the visit, because indeed, we have progressed a great deal in the last two or three years, through CARSI, the Central American Regional Security Initiative, and I hope that President Obama speaksnot just about the continued problems and threats, but also about the progress and results we can mention and discuss at this time in 2013.

PETER VELASCO: Very good. Mauro Orellana from Proceso Digital asks, ‘Ambassador Brownfield, what are the results of the operations carried out by DEA staff in the Mosquitia [Indiscernible] area of Honduras?

WILLIAM BROWNFIELD: Yes. OK, once again, this is like… Talking about this is like talking about a moving train. If we were speaking about the Mosquitia one year ago exactly, in March, the end of March 2012, we would have focussedon the huge number of planes landing in the Mosquitia, the northern and Caribbean coast of Honduras, and transferring their cargo, which at that time was mainly cocaine, to be transported by sea or by land towards North America, passing through Mexico and eventually entering the United States. A year ago there was a joint U.S. and Honduran force in which the DEA participated, but not exclusively—other U.S. government entities participated in that effort to create obstacles for those movements. And I repeat, we’re not talking about modest citizens participating in the illegal drug trade. These are professional traffickers, members of organizations with billions of dollars, traveling by air, sea and ground in Honduras, taking advantage of poor communities in order to pursue their criminal activities. The truth is that we have had some big successes during the past year. Not as much movement by air is detected over Honduran territory. That is good news, of course, both for the United States because any reduction in the amount of cocaine entering the U.S. is good news, but also very good news for Honduras and for those communities that are no longer victims of these massive criminal organizations that take advantage of modest and poor communities in their efforts. At this time, I believe that police authorities in the Mosquitia region have more capacity. Without a doubt, there are vulnerabilities. Without a doubt, the criminal organizations can return to the region at any moment, and the challenge that we have as a government is to establish the infrastructure, equipment, technology, training, professionalism and staff to ensure that, in the future, the Mosquitia will be less attractive for drug-trafficking organizations.

PETER VELASCO: Continuing on this topic, Luis Ipez from CNN en Espanol asks, ‘what is the United States’ opinion on the interference or infiltration of drug cartels within the armed forces and political institutions in Honduras?’

WILLIAM BROWNFIELD: OK, I’m not going to speak explicitly about Honduras. I’m going to speak in more general terms. Without a doubt, when a criminal organization has billions and billions of dollars at its disposal, it looks for the week or vulnerable points in whatever organization or institution, a situation in which the criminal organization can offer a person millions of dollars to do nothing more than to not be present at such place at midnight on next Thursday. The truth is that in Honduras, in any Central American country, in the United States, that possibility can be very attractive to an ordinary person or police officer that receives an annual salary of perhaps $1000 or $2000. That’s the problem we have. And the ability that the trafficking organization has to search out these vulnerable points, and it only needs two or three, perhaps, to transport its product throughout the entire national territory… That’s the problem that the Honduran government, with the U.S. government’s total support, is trying to solve. And how do we do it? We try to do it by establishing internal investigative capacity. In other words, give the National Police the equivalent of what we call amongU.S. police forces internal affairs divisions. These are investigators to investigate individuals within the police force itself, and if it turns out they’ve been infiltrated, then fire them,perhaps even to face charges in court, perhaps not, but at least expelled. Second, new police recruits must be attracted, who must pass a process of vetting to ensure that any police candidate be an honest man or woman, so that they at least enter the institution as responsible and honest citizens. Three, the education and training process. In other words, the professionalization of each police officer for years and years to come. Four, they must receive a reasonable salary. The truth is that… and everyone knows this, if a police officer receives a pittance for a salary, eventually he mustfind a way to provide for his family. He’s going to accept other contributions if the salary isn’t sufficient to provide for the police officer and his family. And it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that salaries are adequate. And finally, the institution needs a sense of pride. Being a police officer shouldn’t be mortifying. It shouldn’t be humiliating. A person should be proud to be a police officer, to swervehis or her community. He or she should be considered a community leader by being a police officer. That’s the process, Peter, very long, unfortunately. If I could make all of this happen overnight I would do it, and I imagine I would be named a saint – even before my death -- for having developed such a magnificent and miraculous plan to achieve such results. Unfortunately, neither I nor anyone else among the nearly seven billion inhabitants of our planet can make this happen in a matter of a few years. But eventually, Luis, this is what is necessary to ensure that in the future the National Police, not only in the case of Honduras, but really in any of the 194 countries of the world, will eventually play this role.

PETER VELASCO: Tim Rogers of Nicaragua Dispatch asks, ‘what is the United States’ opinion about the new role of Russia and Viktor Ivanov in the war on drugs in Central America, particularly their efforts to construct a new anti-drug center in Nicaragua?

WILLIAM BROWNFIELD: The truth is that I consider Mr. Ivanov to be a friend. Of course, he can speak for himself if he considers me to be a friend—I hope so! And the truth is that we collaborate with the FSKN and the anti-drug agency of the Russian Federation in many areas of the world, and the truth is that we regularly speak at different meetings four or five times per year. Mr. Ivanov and I met in Vienna, for example, a bit more than two weeks ago during the gathering of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, an annual meeting of the United Nations regarding illegal drugs. Mr. Ivanov and his agency are absolutely solid and committed to the reduction and elimination of drug abuse in Russia, and the truth is that we cooperate in multiple areas around the world, for example, in Central Asia and some other areas in Asia as well. Of course, the FSKN’s focus is more concentrated on heroine, because that’s the problem that most affects Russian communities, exactly how in this hemisphere, in the American hemisphere, the focus of the past 30 years or so has been much more on cocaine and cocaine abuse. There is cocaine in Russia. There is heroine in the Americas, but the focus is different. The truth is, at the end of the day, to us it’s not a matter of who or what government manages the program or constructs a new center or provides international support for an organization or institution—the important thing is that it’s done in an effective and constructive manner, and that there is good communication between governments about what we are doing. And in that sense, I would like to welcome any contribution, any donation, any aid from the Russian government in this hemisphere, exactly as I hope our anti-drug programs in Asia, based in Afghanistan or the republics of Central Asia, would also be welcomed by the Russian government. The truth is that we want collaboration, and if the collaboration comes from Russia in our hemisphere or from the United States in Russia’s hemisphere, I think that it’s positive.

PETER VELASCO: Changing topics slightly, Marlon Gonzalez from the Honduras Diario La Tribuna asks, ‘How does the United States qualify the fact that Honduras, and specifically San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, are considered to be two of the most violent cities in the world, and what would your country, the United States, do to help ours to change this image?’

WILLIAM BROWNFIELD: Yes. Good, Mr. Marlon. That is exactly the threat, if I may use that term, the crisis that I mentioned at the start of this program. For a Honduran citizen, and more specifically one from the two cities you just mentioned, areas where the homicide rate is nearly 100 homicides per 100,000 residents. For those citizens, saying that they have to wait 10 or 15 or 20 years for the police to be purged, and a new police force to be trained and professionalized—that mean sacrificing an entire generation. And the Honduran citizen will not wait that long. And if we said that yes, they have to wait, eventually what we would see, without a doubt, is the law of the jungle. Every citizen would accept the responsibility to defend himself and his family. And that’s why our reaction must be to work with the Honduran police institution in order to professionalize it, to reform it, to provide it with the technology and equipment necessary for the police to do their job, because at the end of the day the solution must be having a more effective police force in those cities and in all the cities throughout the Republic of Honduras, so that eventually the community will consider the police as an ally, so that citizens will think of the police as the solution to the problem they face, not its cause or aggravation. It’s a process involving various elements. Of course, without a doubt, we will follow through with the process of purging, recruitment, education and training for the entire institution, because that’s the permanent solution for years to come. But, meanwhile, we will work with specific and specialized agents, trustworthy agents selected for their honesty, technologically certified as honest, and these are the units that will produce results: investigations, detentions and trials for the criminals that affect the ordinary citizen. And, finally, we must accept that one element that produces much of this violence, many of these murders, is drug trafficking. I’m not saying that violence and illegal drugs are the same thing. There are violent criminals who are not traffickers, and there are drug traffickers who are not violent, but one contributes to the other, and that is why we must include this third element in our security program, the efforts to attack and eventually reduce and eliminate the trafficking of illegal drugs. Violence, illegal drugs. When we see progress in those two areas, Mr. Marlon, that will be the moment in which we can talk about the dramatic reduction to the murder rate in cities like San Pedro Sula.

PETER VELASCO: OK, in the last few minutes that we have we are going to try to answer the last three questions. Ruben Barrera from NotiMex asks, ‘What can we expect from President Obama’s visit to Mexico? Will the issue of security continue to dominate the bilateral agenda?’

WILLIAM BROWNFIELD: Listen, I was in Mexico City two months ago, more or less, as a member of an interagency delegation from the U.S. government. We initiated a dialogue with the Mexican government. My delegation included members of the Justice Department, Homeland Security, the Defense Department, USAID, our development agency, and of course us, the State Department. Our message to the Mexican authorities was quite clear—that it is the government, no longer so new, of President Enrique Peña Nieto, which shall decide the policies, strategy and areas where we can collaborate, and where we shall collaborate in the future. It is the Mexican government which shall decide the degree to which we will collaborate in one area or another. At the end of the day, it’s the Mexican government’s decision and strategy. My response to Mr. Ruben is that this dialogue continues. When the two presidents speak in May, without a doubt the Mexican president will explain his vision on bilateral cooperation between the United States and Mexico for the future, and I have no doubt that the response of the president of the United States will be that we will support you in the areas that you designate for bilateral cooperation, Mr. President, because we have a shared responsibility for the problems that cross the border between Mexico and the United States, and therefore the solution must be shared as well.

PETER VELASCO: OK, changing the subject once again to the south, Anthony Camacho asks, ‘Mr. Brownfield, how can the peace process between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla contribute to regional security? What expectations do you have on the matter?’

WILLIAM BROWNFIELD: Ah, Mr. Camacho is trying to tempt me into making comments about the Colombian peace process. Look, Peter, I have to answer carefully for two reasons: one, of course, is that it is the Colombian government who totally, completely and absolutely decides the policies of the Colombian government and of the international community who supports the peace process. And second, of course, I am the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, and there are other agencies within the U.S. government who are responsible for supporting this noble, important and hopeful effort. I perhaps shall offer one or two comments. The first is that from the beginning, the government of Colombia and its excellent president have been quite clear that the FARC’s participation in the drug trade must end as part of the peace process, that there is no solution that does not include the elimination of the FARC as one of the most important drug trafficking organizations, not only in Colombia but in the entire world. We support this effort and this objective. Second, without a doubt, the manner in which this process concludes shall have an impact in the region, because Colombia could exercise more regional leadership if it did not have to commit so many resources and efforts to the internal conflict. The truth is that Colombia at this moment is an extraordinary leader in terms of police efforts in the region. Over the past 30 years, the Colombian National Police has learned lessons that no other police force has learned. The truth is that at this moment, Colombia may have the best police force in the entire hemisphere. And the degree to which they can dedicate their efforts, their resources, and their experience to other countries in Central America, in the Caribbean, in other South American countries or in Africa—for me, this would be tremendous and magnificent for the rest of the world.

PETER VELASCO: OK, and the last question is from Sergio Morales, Prensa Libre, Guatemala. He says, ‘Sir, how do we raise the cost for drug traffickers?’

WILLIAM BROWNFIELD: Good question, and Sergio sure has listened well to my comment a few minutes ago about wanting to raise the cost for traffickers by 10-15%, that eventually would cause traffickers to decide to move their activities into other routes or other regions. How is it done? First, of course, the cost of doing business should be maintained and raised, i.e. more interdiction. Each time a plane or a boat is lost with 500 or 1000 kilos of product, that raises the costs for the trafficker. Each time a money-laundering transaction is intercepted, in which they are trying to move funds from country A to country B, that raises their business costs. Each time that one of their members is arrested, causing the dismantling of part of their organization or structure, that raises costs. Second, popular support for the organization must be eliminated. In other words, if there is a little 500-person village where everyone earns an average of $100 a year, and the drug trafficker shows up and says, ‘I have $100,000 for you all, but you have to help my operations here’, if we could turn that community from an allied community into an adversarial community, that raises their costs. If the trafficker has to pay $1 million instead of $100,000, that raises their costs. In other words, all of this ultimately makes… These are individual activities, but they produce a collective result that raises the cost of doing business for Mr. X, Y or Z. And, of course, from our perspective, every time we can make it more difficult for the product to cross the border to the United States, that raises the trafficker’s cost of doing business. And I’ve already mentioned this but I will repeat it for Sergio. We don’t have to make Guatemala perfect. That’s a process of centuries, I imagine. What we have to do is raise the cost for the trafficker by that factor of 10-15% so that he decides, so that the trafficker decides, ‘I’m no longer going to pass through Guatemala. I’m going to find another country.’ And that may be bad news for the other country, but it would be magnificent news for Guatemala. And if I can finish by saying this: as far as I know, it’s not written in any book that the Guatemalan people assumed responsibility a few years ago for all the illegal drug trafficking so that other countries don’t have to suffer the harm of it! The truth is that the Guatemalan people never took that oath. They never accepted that contract. And in my opinion, by working together, the U.S. with Guatemala, the U.S. with Honduras, the U.S. with Central America, at the end of the day we are doing our duty to protect and offer security to the Central American people.

PETER VELASCO: OK, well that’s all the time we have today. Thank you for your questions and for being with us today. Thank you to Mr. Brownfield for being here as well and for answering your questions. A link to the audio and video of our program, our talk today, will be available shortly after the end of the program. And I would also like to remind you that if you would like more information about the State Department, you can follow us on Twitter at @StateDept and @USAenEspanol. We hope to talk with you again in the future, and we hope you have an excellent day. Thank you very much.



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