That would mean increasing the approximately 300 million dollars currently provided annually under the State Department's Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) and other U.S. government agencies to 600 million dollars.
It would place much greater emphasis on such measures as law enforcement training, protection programs for witnesses, prosecutors, and judges, and reform of the region's overcrowded prisons, according to "Countering Criminal Violence in Central America" released by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
"Support for reducing violence in Central America should be the top U.S. priority for the region, because it poses a real threat to the rule of law and governance, which is already very weak," declared Michael Shifter, the report's author.
"Our interests in promoting trade and investment and in fighting drug trafficking are very hard to pursue effectively without bringing down the levels of violence in the region," Shifter, who also heads the Inter-American Dialogue (IAD), told IPS.
The U.S. can also do more at home to reduce the mayhem in Central America, according to the 43-page report.
That includes more vigorous efforts to reduce demand for illicit drugs here, exerting tighter control over the export of dangerous weapons at both the federal and state levels, and sharing more information with the region's governments about the thousands of convicted criminals deported by the U.S. to their jurisdictions each year.
In addition, Washington should grant Temporary Protective Status (TPS) to undocumented Guatemalan migrants in the U.S. and extend TPS for Salvadorans and Hondurans here beyond 2013. That would enable tens of thousands of Central Americans to continue working here, ...