In October 2007, the U.S. government announced the Merida Initiative, a 3-year program that provides funding for a wide-range of drug interdiction, prevention and intervention activities throughout Mexico, Central America and select Caribbean countries. While the Mexico side of the Merida Initiative has received widespread attention from the press, policy-makers and officials throughout the region, relatively little focus has been given to the Central American experience, which differs in its orientation and programmatic allocations.
On May 26, the Latin America Initiative at Brookings and the Washington Office for Latin America hosted a discussion on the Central American component of the Merida Initiative. Panelists examined the security challenges in Central America and the adequacy of the Merida Initiative to provide effective responses within the context of existing and future national and regional initiatives. Particular attention was placed on the suitability of the Initiative to deal effectively with the issue of Central American youth gangs, or maras.
Brookings Senior Fellow Kevin Casas-Zamora provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion.