Roger F. Noriega is a former assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs (Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean) and a former U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States. He coordinates AEI's program on Latin America and writes for the Institute's Latin American Outlook series.
The ultraviolent Mara Salvatrucha street gang, a k a MS-13 — whose 10,000 members sow murder and mayhem in dozens of American cities — has been secretly backing El Salvador’s ruling party for several years, according to evidence that has emerged in recent weeks.
Recent revelations about secret dealings by El Salvador’s ruling party with street gangsters and international narcotraffickers have many in that country worried that they may be drifting toward the lawlessness that has spawned chaos in Venezuela.
El Salvador will choose a new president in a runoff election on March 9. The nation’s decision may prove critical to Salvadoran democracy and regional security, in light of substantial evidence linking the ruling party candidate to narcotraffickers, terrorist groups, and violent street gangs.
The international community has justifiably condemned a decision by the supreme court of the Dominican Republic revoking the citizenship of as many as 350,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent. Unfortunately, that decision in September was just the latest in a pattern of cynical, partisan actions that threaten the rule of law and economic growth in that nation.
Why is Sen. Patrick J. Leahy threatening to kill vital U.S. anti-narcotics support in a key smuggling corridor when his home state of Vermont is awash in illegal drugs? He must have a heck of a reason, right? You be the judge.
With elections approaching in Honduras, El Salvador, and elsewhere in Latin America, self-interested candidates from the left and the right — some with well-known ties to criminals — seek to wield power at their countries’ expense. AEI has convened a panel to expose this problem and to propose remedies.