Political corruption in Central America has led to failed economic and social reforms, and much of a country’s power may be in the hands of either a military or a mafia. Leaders steal large amounts of public funds and escape unpunished, and rampant income inequality only reinforces this negative lifestyle. The drug cartel and violent gangs are primary issues that plague the Central American region. These issues contribute to high homicide rates, particularly in Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. The United States is negatively affected by Central America’s plights, as illegal immigrants regularly stream into the U.S. for economic security, and drug cartels consistently infiltrate the border, seeping dangerous drugs into American society.
Latin America is a hub of economic, social, and political trials. To get into office, many politicians require sums of money that only the mafia can provide. Traditionally, women are not allowed to own businesses or to have a public voice. In some nations, more than half of the jobs are informal. The food quality is poor with respect to nutritional value, and obesity rates are high. Cancer is the largest cause of death and results in unavoidable time away from work for family members. This leads to a financial burden that is increased by income inequality and a lack of competent doctors.
The high illegal immigrant influx into the U.S. can largely be attributed to extreme gang violence in Central America, particularly in Honduras and Nicaragua. Parents are desperate to keep their children from being recruited by such gangs, so they send them to the United States for refuge. However, these children rarely make it to safety and often get picked up by MS-13 gang members who are in the United States. Children who grow up in areas where quality education is not offered and where there is little opportunity for them to pursue socioeconomic mobility, regularly end up in violent gangs. Once they are recruited, it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to leave the gang, as death is typically the consequence for defecting.
Crime infects almost every aspect of life due to the mafia’s desire to control the drug trade. Here, a tenth of the world’s population commits a third of its homicides. 635 homicides occurred in May 2015 alone, largely due to drug and gang violence. Los Zetas is a brutal drug cartel in Mexico with the greatest technological advancement of all the gangs in Central America. The Sinaloa Cartel is considered to be the most powerful drug cartel, responsible for bringing about 200 tons of cocaine and heroin into the U.S. between 1990 and 2008. Cartels such as these are able to thrive because the local police are paid extremely low wages and are thus easily bribed. Some military and police members defect and join the cartels to form paramilitary groups. The main factions today are more likely to use violence than bribery. Many have international influence with contacts in the CIA, DEA, governments, and police organizations, which allows them to survive. The issues that afflict Central America affect the United States in more ways than just the proximity. Immigrants, drugs, cartel influence, and health problems all make their way over the border into American lives.