Summit Concludes with Agreements on Gangs

July 8, 2005

Tegucigalpa (ACAN-EFE) – A summitof Central American Presidents concludedhere last week with accords onarmed gangs in the region, commonlyknown as maras, and on the future ofCentral American integration.The summit brought together heads ofstate from Central America and representativesfrom the United States.The leaders agreed to create a Rapid-Response Force, which would allowpolice and military to move freelybetween countries to fight gangs, drug traffickersand terrorism. Costa Ricanofficials announced last week that thecountry would not participate because ofits history of peace and “civil traditions.”Costa Rica also excluded itself fromregional efforts to create a CentralAmerican passport, which will be progressivelyadopted in all the other countries.Leaders from Guatemala, El Salvador,Honduras and Nicaragua also agreed to aone-visa program, in which visa requirementswill be identical in each country.The Presidents urged the promptapproval and ratification in national legislaturesof reforms to the Central AmericanCourt of Justice that would integrate allCentral American countries into the court.Only Nicaragua, El Salvador andHonduras currently participate.The regional leaders also agreed tostrengthen the rights of immigrants headingnorth toward the United States.

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