Comment for the Latin America Monitor

Latin America Monitor a publication of the Inter-American Dialogue.


Development Services Group where I currently work uses the logo “science4people”. Hopefully, these new initiatives in Central America will be grounded in evidence and responsive to the needs of the respective communities. As we know, through the evidence we have, violence tends to be sticky, in that it is clustered around hotspots or pockets that tend to host various social, economic and institutional vulnerabilities.

Three quick points;


  • As we have learned, each of these “hotspots” requires integrated and differentiated solutions to be sustainable and successful. It is an error to assume that the aspirations and needs of communities will be met through some broad top-down strategy applied across a region. It is also erroneous to assume that the gangs are a homogeneous franchise across the region.
  • Rule of law is a basic human right and is not just law enforcement and more police on the streets. If there is not a fundamental shift in institutional culture that includes professionalization, merit and access to justice, services and mutual respect – then it will fail.
  • The balloon effect is not just applicable to illicit drugs but to all of these security issues. Consequently, it is not just Nicaragua that needs to join this effort but all of us in the America’s need to be part of a transparent and inclusive effort to build the security eco system, community by community – that this region so deserves.


Unfortunately, there are no short cuts.





Adam Blackwell

Vice President International Development

DSG Development Services Group

7315 Wisconsin Ave Suite 800

Bethesda, MD 20814


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