U.S. to spend $300 million on Central America anti-drug projects in 2011

The United States will allocate nearly $300 million this year to help Central American countries fight drug trafficking, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.

“The United States will back you,” Clinton said at a regional security summit in Guatemala. “We know demand for drugs rests mostly in my own country.”

The U.S. secretary of state also called on Central American government and business circles to take more efforts to tackle drug production and corruption in their countries.

The seven Central American nations have proposed their own $6-billion plan intended to undermine drug trafficking in the region. The plan includes some 20 projects aimed at fighting crime and corruption, developing social programs and strengthening state institutions.

Central American countries have been a transit hub for drug flows from Southern America to Mexico and the United States.

More than half of the region’s 46-million population are struggling below the poverty line. Crime rates are extremely high Central America, with 33 murders per 100,000 people per year.

Regional governments spend a total of $4 billion every year to fight organized crime, including drug cartels.

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