The International Republican Institute hosted a multi-partisan delegation of members from the El Salvador National Assembly for a 10-day study tour.  During the trip the delegation learn about U.S. democratic procedures, as well as specific policy actions that U.S. authorities are taking to combat crime and promote economic development in areas with large Salvadoran populations.  The delegation visited Washington, DC and Los Angeles, California where they met with administration officials, members of congress, local government officials, and law enforcement officers.

While in Washington, DC the delegation learned about U.S. policy issues and federal programs that center on combating criminal gangs, narco-trafficking and immigration issues. The delegation met with the Bureau of International Law and Narcotics at the State Department, the Organized Crime division of the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Washington Office on Latin America and with the Congressional Research Services.  

The delegation also met with Representative David Drier from California, Representative Dan Burton from Indiana and staffers from the Western Hemisphere Foreign Affairs Committee.  During their meeting with Rep. Burton the delegates had the opportunity to discuss their interest in the Merida Initiative to Combat Illicit Narcotics and Reduce Organized Crime, a federal anti-drug assistance package for Mexico and Central America, and share how the U.S. can support El Salvador’s efforts to combat criminal gangs that deal in illegal drugs.

The delegation then went to Los Angeles, California where they focused on the law enforcement and prevention aspect of combating gang-related violence. The delegation met with academics at the University of California Irvine, the Federal Bureau of Investigation field office, the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Gang Reduction and Youth Development Office.  The group also met with representatives of two community groups – Homies Unidos and Salvadoran American Leadership and Education Fund – to see how they along with government agencies work to keep young people out of criminal gangs.

The study tour concluded with a brief meeting with the Los Angeles Police Chief, William J. Bratton and a tour of the Los Angeles County Detention Facility where the delegation came in close contact with incarcerated gang-members.  The Salvadoran legislators expressed interest in many of the gang-prevention and rehabilitation programs conducted by these institutions and organizations.

Members of the Salvadoran delegation included Federico Guillermo Avila Quehl (National Republican Alliance Party), Luis Alberto Covera Rivas (Faribundo Marti National Liberation Party), Rolando Alvarenga Argueta (National Republican Alliance Party), Elizardo Gonzalez Lovo (National Reconciliation Party), Carlos Rolando Herrarte Rivas (Christian Democratic Party), Oscar Kattan Milla (Democratic Change Party), and Benito Lara (Faribundo Marti National Liberation Party).     

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