At a meeting of the Central American Integration System in Guatemala on Friday, regional heads of state committed to working to reduce poverty and tackle organized crime, while the new pro-tempore president of the alliance, El Salvador, aims to prioritize security for Central America.
The regional body, known as SICA, integrating Central American nations of Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Belize, and the Dominican Republic, met in Antigua, Guatemala to address issues of migration, economic integration, and regional security.
“Arrival of heads of state for the 45th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of SICA.”
“We are aware that an enormous challenge for our countries and the region is to improve the climate of security,” said Salvardoran president Sanchez Ceren, according to Prensa Latina.
Central American leaders also discussed the potential formation of a regional union, like the European Union. Guatemalan president Otto Perez Molina suggested that such an agreement could be reached by 2020.
“I am sure that to achieve such a proposal would not only be historical, given there are no precedents in the region, but also that it would make it possible to have an important impact on climate change adaptation and migitation programs,” said Costa Rican president Luis Guillermo Solis according to EFE.
“Now is our time, our opportunity to be protagonists of true Central American integration.”
As delegates arrived in the colonial city of Antigua, 45 kilometers from capital Guatemala City, demonstrators protested with signs calling for Guatemalan president Perez Molina's resignation.
“In Antigua, Guatemala we don’t want corrupt (politicians).”
The meeting of Central American nations comes as the U.S. considers Obama's proposed US$1 billion dollar Alliance for Prosperity initiative for Central America's Northern Triangle, aimed at increasing security and stemming migration. The plan is expected to pave the way for increased militarization in the name of “stabilization” in the region and exacerbate the problems underlying social and economic inequality while rewarding governments with dismal human rights records with increased funding.
The SICA meeting was followed by the fifteenth summit of the Tuxtla Mechanism for Dialogue and Cooperation, which includes Central American nations as well as Mexico and Colombia, to discuss development and integration in Mesoamerica.
SICA formed in 1991 with the aim of fostering Central American integration, with attention to the history of armed conflict and political crisis in the region.