By Rhina Guidos
Catholic News Service
Outgoing World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick said today that across administrations, the United States has not paid attention to Central America until the problems “get so bad.”
Now the recent rise in violence, including dramatic numbers of homicides “for countries not at war,” won’t just threaten the region but could present a security problem for the United States, Zoellick said.
Gangs, the drug trade and widespread and easy access to firearms threaten the people living in Central America as well as development of the region, Zoellick said.
He urged the private sector to become more involved in finding a solution to bringing down the violence.
“This is not just the role of the state or the Catholic Church,” he said.
Central American nations combined have the same population as the entire country of Spain, yet the number of murders per capita — 336 in Spain to more than 14,000 in Central America over the same period — clearly shows the problem, he said. He was speaking today to a group gathered at the World Bank headquarters in Washington to discuss ways of reducing murder rates in Central America.
“The private sector has to say, ‘This is our problem, too,’” Zoellick said.