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Mr. Speaker, I rise in support today of H. Res. 564 and join my colleagues in recognizing the efforts taken by the United States and seven Central American countries to confront gang violence in Central America.

   The tragic nature of gang violence in Central America threatens the peace and stability of its neighbors to the north and to the south. Geographically located between the world's largest drug-producing and drug-consuming countries, Central America faces a seemingly insurmountable problem when forced to counter gang violence on its own.

   For this reason, I was pleased to see that earlier this year, the United States and seven Central American countries took the first step towards finding an international solution to the growing level of violence in Central America by holding the first-ever dialogue on democratic security in Guatemala City.

   As the transnational nature of gangs causes crime and violence in Central America to bleed into the United States, this resolution recognizes the importance of a continuing United States involvement and commitment of funds towards dealing with youth gangs in Central America.

   Gangs have become more organized, more violent, and affect North America, Central America and South America. It also encourages Central America and U.S. officials to meet on a regular basis for further cooperation in combating crime and violence and commends these countries for taking the first step in the struggle for security by developing the United States' strategy to combat criminal gangs from Central America and Mexico.

   While I am pleased to see the progress made this year, I also recognize the grave importance of sustaining these efforts while increasing our understanding of the roots of this epidemic. I look forward to our continued cooperation with our neighbors to the south and once again applaud the efforts already taken to counter this increasing threat to peace and security in our region.


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