While military and police forces remain critical to security efforts in the region, the mano dura “is no longer the be all, end all answer” to fighting gang violence and drug trafficking, says Jason Marczak, policy director of the New York-based Council of the Americas.
Local circumstances vary substantially, but Guatemala, too, has broadened its security strategy beyond the “iron fist” method that dominated the region's approach to violence and crime over the past decade. Homicides declined there for a third straight year, dipping nearly 9 percent in 2012 to 5,174 murders.
“I think the examples of what is working in El Salvador can serve as a reference point for what can be accomplished in Guatemala and Honduras and how to do it,” says Mr. Marczak.
The truce many in El Salvador believed couldn't last has evolved into a more complex peace process, according to those who guided the pact.
The truce has served as an example of how all members of society can play a role in sustaining peace.