Salvadoran president Mauricio Funes traveled to Washington last week for meetings where he sought to obtain more aid and investment for the Central American country.
InfoSur Hoy reported some of Funes' remarks to international finance bodies:
Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes on April 18 told the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) that his country’s gang truce provides an opportune time for development.
“This is an opportunity we can’t miss,” Funes said, referring to the March 2012 truce that has reduced daily homicides from 15 to four.
Funes said gang leaders haven’t accumulated the wealth and power of drug lords, which presents a chance to “offer an economic opportunity to drive that the criminal world away.”
Funes estimated there are 60,000 gang members in the Central American nation, but they don’t have structure as do cartels.
El Salvador has emerged as a transshipment point for the trafficking of narcotics north toward Mexico and the United States.Preventing a greater presence of drug cartels in El Salvador is one of the Salvadoran government aims, and Funes wants the US to invest more to fight drug trafficking:
So far the United States has pledged to provide Central America with $360 million in aid for regional security, of which it has disbursed $40 million, Funes told reporters.
"Without greater involvement from the largest drug consuming market in the world, the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime in general will not be as efficient as we hope," Funes said, alluding to Washington.
Funes was to meet Friday with Secretary of State John Kerry and said he would ask for a face-to-face meeting with Obama in Costa Rica in May.