US President Barack Obama has stressed the importance of security during a speech to Central American business leaders. Obama is in Costa Rica for a summit with regional leaders.
"Security is important, it is very hard to create a strong economy when people are personally feeling insecure. There has been a lot of emphasis on immigration, and I understand why that is. Obviously it is of great importance to this region and to the United States. We shouldn’t lose sight of the critical importance of trade and commerce and business to the prospects both for Costa Rica, the United States and the entire hemisphere." Barack Obama, US President said.
Obama’s comments on Saturday came just weeks after the World Bank warned that rising violence from drug cartels and street gangs in Central America is costing the region up to 8 percent of gross domestic product and could hinder future growth.
Analysts believe drug cartels are the driving factor behind rising violence in the region, which also grapples with widespread youth street gangs that extort businesses and pay off corrupt officials.
The atmosphere of insecurity could harm the investment climate in the region and divert already scarce government resources to crime reduction efforts and away from spending to boost economy activity.