San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

U.S. promises $107 million more to fight Central America crime

TEGUCIGALPA – U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday pledged $107 million more in aid to Central America under a security initiative to tackle organized crime amid soaring drug violence in the region.

“Despite the significant recession… we are sustaining support for the Central American Regional Security Initiative, through which we have dedicated $361 million since 2008. And we’re asking our Congress for another $107 million next year,” Biden said after meeting regional presidents in Honduras.

Biden spoke of the “shared responsibility” of the United States and said U.S. authorities are acting on “multiple fronts,” including seeking to reduce demand for illegal drugs at home.

He also proposed that the United States and Central American governments hold an annual high-level meeting to assess progress on improving security.

Biden made no mention of a hot regional debate on decriminalizing drugs – proposed last month by Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina – after insisting Monday in Mexico that the United States is firmly opposed to such a move.

The governments of Panama, El Salvador and Honduras have rejected legalization but, along with Costa Rica and Nicaragua, are open to discussing the issue.

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