Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Obama pledges $200 million to Central America drug war

By Matt Spetalnick and Alister Bull
Reuters

SAN SALVADOR – President Barack Obama pledged $200 million on Tuesday to Central America's anti-drug fight on the final leg of a regional tour to bolster U.S. ties with southern neighbors who have often felt neglected by Washington.

Obama unveiled the aid plan as aides announced he would cut short his El Salvador visit slightly on Wednesday and head back to Washington, where the political debate over the U.S. military role in air assaults against Libya's Muammar Gaddafi was gathering momentum.

Shifting to tiny, impoverished El Salvador after visiting economically thriving Brazil and Chile, Obama arrived with his attention split as he faced questions and criticism at home and abroad over U.S. goals in the U.N.-approved Libya campaign.

The final visit of Obama's Latin American tour marked a change in emphasis from issues of trade and investment that dominated his first stops, which were aimed at reasserting U.S. interests in countries where China poses growing competition.

Talks with President Mauricio Funes, a moderate leftist the White House sees as an emerging partner, focused on reassuring him of cooperation on drug enforcement and searching for common ground on volatile immigration matters. Both issues resonate loudly with Washington's neighbors and among U.S. voters.

At a joint news conference, Obama offered $200 million fresh funding to governments combating drug traffickers and street gangs in Central America, which has suffered a spillover of drug violence from Mexico's powerful narcotics cartels.

"We are launching a new effort against gangs in Central America to support efforts here in the region ... including the social and economic forces that drive young people toward criminality," Obama said. He said it would help train security forces, strengthen courts and tackle underlying poverty.

Funes welcomed the new initiative and praised Obama for acknowledging the need for greater U.S. efforts to curb U.S. demand for illegal drugs, which countries in the region see as the root of the problem. U.S. drug consumption and gun-running have been a particular source of tension with Mexico.

RE-ENGAGING

The El Salvador visit will wrap up a five-day mission to re-engage with a region where Washington's approach has ranged from heavy-handed use of power for much of the 20th century to one of neglect in recent years.

Obama's trip is seen to have helped reinforce hemispheric ties but the Libya attacks do not go down well with most of Latin America and he has delivered no major breakthroughs on long-promised trade pacts or key trade disputes. The trip was also judged to have done little to counter China's inroads.

Obama's travels were dogged by concern over the Western air campaign over Libya. He is struggling to balance handling world crises with his domestic priorities of jobs and economic recovery, considered crucial to his 2012 re-election chances.

He mostly stuck to his travel plans even as aides scrambled to keep him up to speed on Libyan developments and unrest in the Arab world.

Obama's visit to San Salvador's cathedral to pay homage at the tomb of slain Archbishop Oscar Romero was shifted from Wednesday to Tuesday, and the White House said a tour of Mayan ruins set for Wednesday was scrapped to let him hold a call with Libya advisers in the morning and then fly out about 2 1/2hours early.

In San Salvador, Obama repeated his commitment to reform the U.S. immigration system but did not say when he would seek legislation. There is disappointment in the region over his failure to act on immigration and he is given little chance of digging into the hot-button issue ahead of the 2012 election.

Despite that, Obama's visit carried political symbolism. Funes won the presidency in 2009 as head of a coalition led by a former leftist guerrilla movement that was opposed by the United States during El Salvador's long civil war. He is the country's first left-of-center president since the conflict.

Source:http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/22/us-obama-latinamerica-idUSTRE72G6YT20110322

8 comments:

  1. How does the U.S. keep passing out money when its trillion dollars in dept and can not pay?

    ReplyDelete
  2. UNFUCKING BELIEVABLE! USE THE MONEY HERE TO FIGHT THE DAMN DRUG PROBLEM! YOUR SO RIGHT ANONYMOUS @ 11:26 PM! WHY CAN'T OUR SO CALLED PRESIDENT ADDRESS PROBLEMS IN THIS COUNTRY INSTEAD OF "PLEDGING" MONEY TO OTHERS? NO WONDER HE IS SO "LOVED"!

    ReplyDelete
  3. HE IS THE ANTI-CHRIST.....THIS IS ALL SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN.....JUST EVERYONE FIND JESUS! "And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass"

    ReplyDelete
  4. Obama is an idiot, in this issue so was Bush.
    2008=400M for Mx
    65M for Central America
    now another 200M..NOT ENOUGH!

    Central America is easily destablized they have the highest murder rate in the americas...4 times that of Mexico. and have no resources to fight the cartels. Guate border with Mx is controlled 3/4 by Los Zetas..they will control Guate and make it a true Narco Controlled state if they do not receive help. Don't be ignorant read past the money.


    Folks...you could not be more wrong..this war is at our doorstep...
    I think if you are going to bitch why not ask "why are we spending money in Afghan war, a winless war? why not invest in the war at our border?

    ReplyDelete
  5. @March 24, 2011 9:33 AM

    TOTAllY AGREE WITH YOU!!! ITS JUST THAT AMERICA(GOV'T) DOESN'T WANT WAR THIS CLOSE TO HOME....THAT IS WHY THEY JUST SHOVE MONEY AT THE "NEXT DOOR" WAR INSTEAD OF RECOGNIZING THE CREEPING THREAT. THEY WILL HAVE TO INTERVENE, BUT WHEN THEY DO IT WILL BE FAR TOO LATE AND THERE WILL BE A LOT OF CATASTROPHE....MONEY WON'T SOLVE EVERYTHING!!!

    BUT I DO AGREE MOST MILITARY FOCUS SHOULD BE DIRECTED TO THE NEIGHBORS TO THE SOUTH.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Does anyone read what the Merida Initiative is? Or do you believe we just give a fat check of millions of dollars. I will break it down barney style the Merida Initiative provides equipment and training in support of law enforcement operations and technical assistance which are estimated at millions of dollars, no money being handed out, like all of you mentioned.

    http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d10837.pdf
    http://www.state.gov/p/inl/merida/

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous 12:42, you seem to have the utterly weird belief that providing US 'equipment and training' is NOT somehow money being handed out for free to the foreign cops, military troops , and government politico hacks who are the recipients. Perhaps you are right about that???

    The US government simply is making jobs for foreign nationals who happen to be soldiers, cops, and government bureaucrats while not doing so for ordinary American citizens who are unemployed. There is no money for that it seems! Is that what you mean? Thanks for explaining the 'Merida Initiative' to us then...

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  8. This is the same isolationist crap that Americans have espoused for decades. And everyone wants to blame the President of the party they don't like for all the problems.

    First, isolationism is what causes many of the world's problems. When there are problems in the back yard, you have to help fix it so the rot doesn't creep into your own house.

    isolationism is what gave rise to the Nazis in WWII. Everyone was whining about their own problems of the Depression to pay serious attention and stop Hitler.

    So, following the logic of most of the comments, why are we giving money to Japan after the earthquake, or Chile, or Indonesia after their tsunami? We should just take care of ourselves, right?

    The answer to that is no! Great power comes with great responsibility and a few hundred million (out of a multi-trillion dollar budget) is a small price for the control we exert when we tender those funds.

    All presidents (of both parties)for more than 100 years have spent money abroad during even the worst economic times. So get your heads out of your ultra right-wing or left-wing ass and stop being an armchair quarterback.

    Wanna change it? You need to quit whining about it and DO something....

    ReplyDelete

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