The Humanitarian “Cold War” Crisis at Our Doorstep


Written by Mauricio Vivero, CEO of the Seattle International Foundation. Originally published on the Huffington Post Impact blog.

Vladimir Putin’s illegal annexation of Crimea has some U.S. policymakers dusting off the Cold War playbook. Looking at Russia’s occupation of parts of Ukraine and the slew of speeches flung back-and-forth between the White House and the Kremlin, they recall a not-so-distant history when the problems of countries and regions were understood not on their own terms, but rather through the narrow lens of superpower rivalry. Some of the rhetoric we hear today has echoes of that perspective.

For some observers, our neighbors in Central America in particular, this comes as no surprise. Seeing Central America through a narrow lens has been a longstanding problem that continues to this day. At one time, the U.S. government saw every issue in the region as part of a proxy battle with the Soviets. U.S. involvement in Central America’s internal affairs — including covert operations, CIA-engineered coups, and cozy relations with repressive governments — was justified by the need to prevent the spread of communism in our hemisphere.

But the end of the Cold War didn’t stop U.S. policymakers from seeing Central America through a narrow lens; the focus merely shifted away from communism and toward the drug war.

Today’s U.S. policy in the region has one focus: to stop drug-trafficking organizations that State Department and Pentagon officials alike consider a matter of national security because they stimulate drug abuse and violence in the United States, undermine democracies in the region, and can potentially finance terrorists. During the past decade, the United States has militarized the war on drugs, not only training law enforcement agents in Latin American nations, but also involving their militaries and pouring money into radars, planes and ships. At $20 billion dollars, it is the most expensive initiative in Latin America since the Cold War.

Read the rest of the article on the Huffington Post here.

Key leaders convene in Washington to advance development in Central America

IDB and SIF bring together government officials, funders and regional experts to discuss collaboration

Washington, D.C. – More than 150 donors and development experts gathered at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) headquarters on Friday to discuss successful models and opportunities for collaboration and co-investment in Central America.

The Central America Donors Forum, organized by the Seattle International Foundation (SIF) and the IDB, brings together key representatives from government, philanthropy, civil society and the private sector to align grantmaking and investment strategies in the region. Click here for the forum agenda and a list of speakers and attendees. 

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SIF convenes key leaders to discuss collaboration in the region

Fernando Carrera, Secretary of Planning and Programming (SEGEPLAN) – Government of Guatemala and Helen Mack, Founder of Fundación Myrna Mack participate in the opening plenary on Guatemala at the Central America Donors Forum, held at Microsoft Headquarters on June 19, 2012.

To view photos from this event, click here

On June 19, 2012, over 130 donors and development experts working in Central America gathered at the Microsoft headquarters for SIF’s Central America Donors Forum. This event provided a unique opportunity for learning and deeper engagement on priority issues, successful models, and opportunities for networking and co-investment in the region.

Representatives from the IDB, U.S. Department of State, USAID, foundations, and Central American civil society leaders lead panel discussions around critical issues such as women’s rights, civil security, investing in youth, and opportunities for collaboration. For the complete agenda and list of participants, please click here.

Michael Solis of OYE Adelante Jovenes writes about the event in the Huffington Post Impact Blog:

“At the second annual Central American Donors Forum in Seattle, Julieta Castellanos spoke about the threats facing Central America. Among them, she cited rising homicide rates in what is now considered to be the most dangerous region on earth outside of a warzone. She focused on Honduras, a nation “in crisis” that currently ranks first among the world’s most violent countries….” To read the full article about the event in the HuffPost, click here.

To read about the event on KPLU’s Humanosphere, click here.

About the blog:
This blog was created to support the Central America Network and encourage dialogue around relevant research, news and poverty alleviation efforts in the region.
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