Biden Joins Central American Leaders in Anti-Narcotics Fight

Posted March 7th, 2012 at 2:50 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says Washington will meet its “shared responsibility” in helping Central American combat drug trafficking that has led to soaring violent crime in the region.

Biden held talks Tuesday with the leaders of seven regional countries in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa. During a joint news conference with Honduran President Porfiro Lobo Sosa, Biden said the Obama administration is seeking another $107 million to support a regional security initiative aimed at fighting the drug cartels.

“I applaud the leaders here today for the key steps that they have taken to tackle the security challenges. To deepen our partnership I propose that our governments, the same governments that met here today, hold an annual high-level meeting to assess the progress we are making toward improving the security of our citizens.”

Guatemalan President Otto Perez has called for a debate among his Central American counterparts about decriminalizing drugs as a means of decreasing cartel violence. Biden rejected Mr. Perez's proposal Monday during a visit to Mexico.

Air Force General Douglas Fraser, the head of the U.S. Southern Command, described the reach of the regional drug cartels during testimony before a congressional committee Tuesday.

“We see that it is a network that extends from the production areas of the northern part of South America through the transit zone in Central America and Mexico and into the demand region in the United States and other parts of the region. We're seeing that, now, some of that supply of cocaine — and I'll talk specifically cocaine — is moving through South America as well as Central America.”

The U.S. Southern Command has launched a maritime operation aimed at stopping drug trafficking between South and Central America.