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Source: Council on Hemispheric Affairs – Analysis-Reportage

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By Patrick Synan
Boston

As the trial of former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández proceeds,[1] as Guatemalan Attorney General María Consuelo Porras begins her controversial second term,[2] and as the state of exception in El Salvador enters its 3rd month[3], progressive members of Congress and the Senate maintain concerns about police and military funding for governments in the Northern Triangle.

In April, 11 Representatives signed a letter to House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chair Barbara Lee requesting an end to funds promised under the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI).[4] This follows a bill introduced in the Senate calling for a 5-year suspension of U.S. aid to Honduras. Presently, neither motion has enough support to move forward.[5]

CARSI failed to improve security

The reasons for such proposals merit consideration. The primary concern listed in each document is the fragility of human rights in the region, but the letter to the State and Foreign Operations subcommittee also explicitly addresses costs. CARSI is expensive and counterproductive, it argues. Literature from human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch (HRW)[6] and The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights supports these claims.[7]

According to John Lindsay-Poland, who has researched the sale of U.S. arms in Latin America for decades, “evidence is strong that CARSI failed to improve security for people in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, as evidenced by the massive numbers of people who fled during the period of CARSI, at great risk, and that instead CARSI strengthened corrupt anti-democratic governments in those countries. Most of the funds did not go to military and police forces, but benefited economic elites there. Whether CARSI caused the worsening situation or not, it’s at the least been a waste of funds.”[8]

Meanwhile, those who find value in CARSI’s continuation argue that its problems are more nuanced. Charles Call, non-resident Senior Fellow at Brookings, calls it “cherry picking to pull out CARSI (…) separate from the overall engagement with Central America.” According to Call, a more holistic review of U.S. policy in the region reveals “an approach that is highly technical and ignores the political dimension.”[9]

CARSI began as the Central American component of the Mérida Initiative in the last year of the Bush administration, but it was rebranded shortly after Obama took office.[10] According to the State Department one-pager, its objectives were to:

  • Create safe streets for the citizens of the region;
  • Disrupt the movement of criminals and contraband to, within, and between the nations of Central America;
  • Support the development of strong, capable, and accountable Central American governments;
  • Re-establish effective state presence, services and security in communities at risk; and
  • Foster enhanced levels of coordination and cooperation between the nations of the region, other international partners, and donors to combat regional security threats.[11]

The multi-million-dollar aid package remains in effect, despite over a decade of deteriorating human rights conditions, ongoing border insecurity and the consolidation of criminal infrastructure in much of the region.

Real accountability, non-existent

In Honduras, while the new presidency of Xiomara Castro is a positive development, the state bureaucracy remains occupied by countless Hernández loyalists.[12] In Guatemala, President Giamattei has reappointed Attorney General Consuelo Porras after her first term produced the arrest or exile of nearly every anti-corruption or anti-impunity investigator working at the national level, most notably special prosecutor Juan Francisco Sandoval.[13] In El Salvador, President Nayib Bukele has embarked on a project of dismantling democratic institutions like the Supreme Court[14] and strengthening the state’s security apparatus, most recently through the state of exception, which enables law enforcement to jail arbitrarily.[15] Each of the three countries receives millions in U.S. military and police aid each year through CARSI, but no serious accountability measures exist to ensure this money is used to accurately identify, capture, and fairly prosecute the perpetrators of serious crimes.

The U.S. federal government has been conspicuously critical of each country in the past year. Vicepresident Kamala Harris voiced her disapproval when Bukele fired Supreme Court judges and the country’s chief prosecutor.[16] Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced the government’s designation of Consuelo Porras as a “corrupt and undemocratic actor” earlier this month.[17] Meanwhile, the Department of Justice’s indictment of former President Juan Orlando Hernández alleges he “corrupted the legitimate institutions of Honduras, including parts of the Honduran National Police, military, and National Congress.”[18] Nonetheless, despite U.S. concern, designations, or outright criminal charges, the State Department’s police and military funding for regimes in the Northern Triangle has risen steadily.

Honduras

The case of U.S. funding for the Honduran military and police is particularly curious. CARSI coincided with the country’s 12-year descent into lawlessness. The State Department, meanwhile, never made a move to turn off the faucet.

The total disintegration of the rule of law in Honduras began abruptly on June 28, 2009 when then-president Manuel Zelaya was removed from office in a military coup. Zelaya’s increasingly progressive policies were not favored by the landed elite and corporate interests operating in the region. In the year leading up to his ouster, he had unilaterally ordered a 60% increase in the minimum wage and issued a public opinion survey on whether to form a Constituent Assembly.[19] His removal ushered in 12 years of illegitimate rule by the conservative National Party, whose leaders famously declared Honduras was “open for business[20] shortly after coming to power.

The degree to which the U.S. State Department was complicit in the coup is debatable. By referring to the ouster as only a coup and not a military coup, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton performed a delicate legal maneuver to avoid placing the United States in a predicament where by law Congress was obligated to withhold military funding.[21] Authors like Alexandra Gale at COHA have remarked on the United States’ “selective indignation” towards dictatorships in Latin America, arguing that “Washington has endorsed (…) a range of military dictatorships in Panama, Honduras, and Guatemala, when they were seen as strategic geopolitical allies.”[22] By not condemning the Honduran coup, the U.S. continued to sponsor a regime that deliberately engaged in human rights abuses for the sake of international business.

In the 1996 HRW World Report, Honduras received substantial praise for “establishing accountability for gross human rights violations that occurred in the 1980s.”[23] Also in the Honduras section of the report are seven paragraphs dedicated to U.S. policy. This subsection opens by reiterating that Honduras “has taken important and courageous steps to account for the horrific history of Battalion 3-16,” the CIA-trained unit of the Honduran army responsible for a litany of high-profile political assassinations. It then admonishes the U.S., which “has still to do the same.”

This is the last time Honduras appears in a World Report until 2010, a year after the military ouster of Manuel Zelaya, the country’s last democratically elected president at the time, and over a year after CARSI was instated. The nature of the abuses described in subsequent reports progressively worsens; furthermore, each new edition devotes increased text to address prior violations that had not previously been revealed. One particularly enlightening case takes place in the Bajo Aguán valley, in eastern Honduras. According to the 2012 Report:

“More than 30 people were killed between January and August 2011 in the Bajo Aguán valley, a fertile palm oil-producing zone in northern Honduras. A long-simmering land conflict erupted in May when peasants occupied land being cultivated by large privately owned agricultural enterprises. Many victims were members of peasant associations who were allegedly gunned down by security guards working for the enterprises. In addition, four security guards were shot and killed in August 2011, when individuals armed with assault rifles and other arms reportedly tried to take over a ranch. In the absence of criminal investigation, the circumstances of each incident remained unclear. By September no one had been charged for the killings in the Bajo Aguán region.”[24]

The 2013 Report on the Bajo Aguán is virtually a repeat of 2012, only the victim tally was doubled.[25] In the 2014 Report, the 2012 number was tripled.[26] By 2015, after less than a year of the Hernández administration, the case of the Bajo Aguán was replaced by a general section about population displacement, which owes largely to a concern that doesn’t appear in prior World Report analyses of Honduras: gang violence.[27]

A survey of HRW Reports on Honduras reveals two key points: one, that CARSI funding was practically simultaneous with the breakdown of security in Honduras, which law enforcement was either unsuccessful in preventing or actively promoting; two, the emergence of rampant gang violence in Honduras was a post-CARSI phenomenon, which contradicts the State Department’s allegations that such funding was necessary to stop it.

Honduras drew unprecedented attention from other watchdog organizations as well. Prior to the coup, Honduras had not featured on the Inter-American Commission on Human RIghts’ annual reports for nearly a quarter of a century, its last appearance pertaining to an individual case of citizenship dispute and a case of two missing persons.[28] By contrast, the IACHR covered post-coup Honduras for 5 consecutive years and returned to include it in its 2016 and 2021 reports. Furthermore, the IACHR published 4 observation reports on Honduras in 2009, 2010, 2015 and 2019.

Predictably, each of the reports addresses the illegitimacy of the coup regime and the escalation of violence in the Bajo Aguán. However, certain sections of these texts go on to address the systemic changes that took place to consolidate the National Party’s control in spite of widespread popular resentment. A 2015 observation report expressed concern over the weakened legitimacy of the police and the increasing presence of military forces throughout the country:

“The national police have lost the trust of citizens due to a lack of effective response, allegations of corruption, and links to organized crime. For this reason, the State has focused its efforts on legal and institutional reforms through which the Armed Forces have been gaining participation in functions that do not necessarily correspond to their nature, related, for example, to regular citizen security tasks. Various actors interviewed during the visit referred to the existence of a growing process of militarization to address insecurity, and therefore a greater presence of the military in the areas of greatest conflict, as well as an “open fight against organized crime,” without a clear process to strengthen the national police. Within this framework, the Military Police was created, as well as a group of judges and prosecutors of national jurisdiction whose objective is to accompany the Military Police to ensure that their actions are framed by law. These judges and prosecutors do not have sufficient guarantees of independence and impartiality to hear known human rights violations by members of said Police. Based on its analysis, the IACHR has identified a series of concerns, among others, that military forces carry out activities that do not imply the defense of the country but rather enforce the law, issues that should correspond to the police.”[29]

The expansion of military power and purview in Honduras is one of the ways in which the National Party has maintained its political influence in spite of the leftward agenda of the newly elected Castro administration. It is also a source of concern when it comes to the current government’s stability. Allison Lira, director of the Honduras program for the Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective, says, “there continues to be a very serious risk of another coup in Honduras…the military structure is still very much aligned with the interests that led to the [2009] coup in the first place.”[30] Essential to the Honduran military structure, of course, is the economic support it receives from the United States through programs like CARSI.

Guatemala

Guatemala, typically the largest recipient of CARSI funds,[31] has appeared yearly on the World Report since the 1990’s. Prior to 2010, reports generally portrayed a society engaged in a hard struggle to heal after decades of civil war. However, a continuing feature of this struggle was the state’s inability to hold the military accountable for crimes against civilians. Reports from 2006 to 2009 open with virtually the same five paragraphs:

“A dozen years after the end of Guatemala’s brutal civil war, impunity remains the norm when it comes to human rights violations. Ongoing violence and intimidation threaten to reverse the little progress that has been made toward promoting accountability. Guatemala’s weak and corrupt law enforcement institutions have proved incapable of containing the powerful organized crime groups that, among other things, are believed to be responsible for attacks on human rights defenders, judges, prosecutors, and others.

Guatemala continues to suffer the effects of an internal armed conflict that ended in 1996. A United Nations-sponsored truth commission estimated that as many as 200,000 people were killed during the 36-year war, and attributed the vast majority of the killings to government forces.

Guatemalans seeking accountability for these abuses face daunting obstacles. Prosecutors and investigators receive grossly inadequate training and resources. The courts routinely fail to resolve judicial appeals and motions in a timely manner, allowing defense attorneys to engage in dilatory legal maneuvering. The army and other state institutions resist cooperating fully with investigations into abuses committed by current or former members. And the police regularly fail to provide adequate protection to judges, prosecutors, and witnesses involved in politically sensitive cases.

Of the 626 massacres documented by the truth commission, only three cases have been successfully prosecuted in the Guatemalan courts. The third conviction came in May 2008, when five former members of a paramilitary “civil patrol” were convicted for the murders of 26 of the 177 civilians massacred in Rio Negro in 1982.

The July 2005 discovery of approximately 80 million documents of the disbanded National Police, including files on Guatemalans who were murdered and “disappeared” during the armed conflict, could play a key role in the prosecution of those who committed human rights abuses during the conflict. By October 2008 …the country’s Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office had processed seven million of those documents, primarily related to cases presently under active investigation. The office plans to open the first part of the archive in 2009.”[32]

Each of these documents identifies a perpetually weak judicial system and frightened civil societies fumbling in the shadow of an untouchable military and police force. Furthermore, the nearly identical text over four years suggests that no immediate improvements were likely without international pressure. But it isn’t obvious how channeling funds to an army that “resist[s] cooperating” and police who “routinely fail to provide adequate protection” would solve these issues. Subsequent reports do not tell a tale of success.

Far from being a repeat of the previous four years, the 2010 World Report shows an even further decline in the state of human rights in Guatemala. The summary of the section reads:

“Guatemala’s weak and corrupt law enforcement institutions have proved incapable of containing the powerful organized crime groups and criminal gangs that contribute to Guatemala having one the highest violent crime rates in the Americas. Illegal armed groups, which appear to have evolved in part from counterinsurgency forces operating during the civil war that ended in 1996, are believed to be responsible for targeted attacks on civil society actors and justice officials. More than a decade after the end of the conflict, impunity remains the norm when it comes to human rights violations. The ongoing violence and intimidation threaten to reverse the little progress that has been made toward promoting accountability.”[33]

Rather than aiding military and law enforcement officials in addressing violence and organized crime, CARSI coincided with the strengthening of “illegal armed groups” with ties to military forces. The 2011 Report describes military efforts to address gang violence resulting in “social cleansing.” In other words, the detention and/or disappearance of union organizers and social activists,[34] The 2012 Report describes similar activity.[35]

According to the 2013 Report, “President Otto Pérez Molina (…) increasingly used the Guatemalan military in public security operations, despite the serious human rights violations it committed during the country’s civil war.”[36] This tendency was identified again in 2014.[37] In 2015, HRW found that a force of 20,000 armed service members was active in a country whose territory measures 42,000 square miles.[38]

In a 2015 observation report, the IACHR echoes HRW’s concerns about the state’s overreliance on the military to address domestic security challenges; in response it recommends a “return to the police reform agenda, specifically the plan named ‘The Police We Want.’”[39] This is a particularly intriguing recommendation because “The Police We Want” is published by USAID, the organization through which CARSI funds are channeled. However, further IACHR reporting offers no indication that its recommendation was followed.

The USAID plan was supposed to operate from 2012 to 2020, but in 2014 a new framework for police reform emerged. The Integral Police Model for Community Security (MOPSIC) prioritized community-oriented policing (COP). According to Arturo Matute of the University of the Valley of Guatemala, it was popular among some of the largest foreign aid organizations operating in Guatemala.

“The donor community has backed preventive strategies in the police through the years, including the development of MOPSIC. The U.S. has provided the largest amounts of financial support through the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).”[40]

Despite the promising nature of the framework, however, the rollout of MOPSIC has been weak. Matute observes that presently, “police agents are scarcely trained in it.”[41]

Despite the inefficacy of police reform, there were some advances in the justice system between 2013 and 2019. The World Reports during this timeframe applaud a series of high-level convictions. In 2013, former president Efrain Ríos Montt was found guilty of crimes against humanity and genocide. In 2015, Otto Pérez Molina was implicated in a tax fraud scandal and resigned. The major force behind this discovery was the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), a UN-led investigative team operating in Guatemala since 2006 with a mandate to examine high level corruption cases. The 2016 World Report acknowledged this significant step forward along with restrictions on U.S. aid to Guatemala under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 (this provision had a limited effect on CARSI funds).[42] For a few short years, accountability appeared on the horizon.

The IACHR also expressed some cautious optimism in its 2015 report, writing: “ The IACHR notes changes in favor of a society committed with human rights, promoted by the work of public officials compromised with justice and human rights defenders as well as social leaders. The support of international human rights agencies, as well as the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG, for its acronym in Spanish), has been critical to those efforts.”[43]

The momentum dissipated, however, in 2018 when Jimmy Morales “flanked by military and police officers, announced that he would not renew CICIG’s mandate when it expire[d] (…) in September 2019. The following week, he announced that he had prohibited CICIG Commissioner Iván Velásquez—who was on a work trip abroad—from re-entering the country.”[44] This was the beginning of a political purge that only advanced in both speed and intensity during the Giamattei administration under the Attorney Generalship of Consuelo Porras.

The current state of Guatemala is quite grim. Far from witnessing a reduction in crime and gang violence since CARSI was first enacted (despite the package’s stated purpose of addressing these problems), the country now faces a regime dedicated to erasing the branches of state that could make any positive difference. Like Secretary Blinken, the most recent HRW World Report condemns the dissolution of anti-corruption institutions by Consuelo Porras and Giamattei. Neither the White House nor Human Rights Watch, however, mentions the uninterrupted flow of military funding.[45]

El Salvador

Until recently, El Salvador has hardly featured in the yearly reports from HRW and the IACHR. The reasons for this gap are unclear. However, reports from 2019 onward illustrate a disappointing decline in the state of human rights, largely perpetrated by the state, despite ongoing funding from the United States.

The 2019 HRW World Report reads a lot like the reports from Guatemala and Honduras with respect to the deployment of the military in domestic affairs. It also addresses the discrepancies that abound in the state’s system of reporting deaths at the hands of security forces.

Since taking office in 2014, President Salvador Sánchez Cerén has expanded the military’s role in public security operations, despite a 1992 peace accord stipulation that it not be involved in policing. Killings of alleged gang members by security forces in supposed “armed confrontations” increased from 142 in 2013 to 591 in 2016.[46]

The placement of the phrase “armed confrontations” in quotes presumably refers to a reporting phenomenon in El Salvador, where practically any death at the hands of police was identified as the result of a confrontation, even when the victims were not in any position to defend themselves. El Faro editor Oscar Martínez details some of these curious blunders in his most recent book, Los muertos y el periodista, saying that “any ‘confrontation’ where no police were injured or they didn’t give access to the crime scene was a massacre.”[47] In three years, the number of Salvadorans killed in operations of this kind more than quadrupled.

At the same time, U.S. bilateral aid to El Salvador appears to have escalated in kind. In 1996, HRW identified a decline in U.S. assistance, with $27 million being spent between the years 1992 and 1995 on the nascent peace process, whereas the 2019 Report estimated $42 million was delivered in the prior fiscal year alone[48]. Much of this funding was withheld in 2019, according to the Government Accountability Office, which states that CARSI was cut by over 176 million dollars to penalize El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras for the migrant crisis. GAO documentation, however, only identifies staffing cuts for non-State/non-INL projects. As far as program cuts, the percentage of funding withheld from social programs is nearly twice that withheld from State/INL programs.[49] The 2021 World Report subtly addresses this discrepancy when it notes that “the U.S. appropriated over $72 million in bilateral aid to El Salvador, particularly to reduce extreme violence and strengthen state institutions [italics added]” in the previous fiscal year, up from $62 million the year before.[50]

Despite steadily increasing security aid, the 2020 World Report once again identifies a rise in “confrontation” killings, stating that: “Salvadoran police and soldiers killed 1,626 people from 2010 through 2017. Authorities claimed that more than 90 percent of the victims were gang members and that nearly all were killed in ‘confrontations.’”[51] The IACHR published similar findings in its 2021 report, claiming:

“Civil society organizations have stated that, within the last five years, at least 2,173 armed clashes have been recorded, which have led to the death of 1,930 people. Out of these casualties, 96.8 percent were citizens who were identified as gang members according to the official sources. By the end of 2019, the number of recorded conflicts since 2014 rose to 2,514, in which 2,025 people died, out of whom 1,957 were civilians and 68 were police or military officers. In addition to the high number of civilians killed when compared to the number of state agents who were murdered over the same period of time, according to an analysis carried out by the University Observatory for Human Rights of the Central American University, the fatality rate in these clashes was alarming and “clearly indicative of the excessive use of lethal force. Thus (…) the number of dead people (193) was allegedly higher than the number of injured people (76) among those identified as ‘criminals or gang members.’”[52]

The 2021 World Report notes significant declines in homicides, but simultaneously remarks on egregious attacks on democratic processes and institutions. The introduction describes how then newly elected president Nayib Bukele “entered the Legislative Assembly with armed soldiers in an apparent effort to intimidate legislators into approving a loan for security forces.”[53] The 2022 World Report details the nature of Bukele’s assault on the judicial sector, explaining that he “removed and replaced all five judges of the Supreme Court’s Constitutional Chamber, as well as the attorney general (…) appointed five new judges to the Supreme Court, in violation of the process established in the constitution (…) [and] passed two laws dismissing all judges and prosecutors over 60 years of age or with 30 or more years of service.”[54]

Bukele is not the military or the police, but his repeated and drastic power grabs consolidate his control over how these forces are deployed. His influence thus far over law enforcement is ethically dubious. El Faro, one of the most established Salvadoran press agencies, has linked the lowered homicide rate in 2020 to negotiations between government leaders and gang leaders who received protections, privileges, and in some cases even freedom.[55] The 2023 Report is likely to address the state of exception and the unprecedented rise in homicides that directly preceded it.

Rooting Out Corruption

“It’s not at all true that an increase in human rights violations is due to CARSI,” says Professor Call. The problem, in his view, is corruption and the slowness of U.S.-led efforts to recognize and penalize it; the aid itself, however, is a gesture of goodwill, without which peace in the region would be far more challenging to secure. As for the Senate bill to suspend aid to Honduras, Call says, “it’s stupid, period,” adding that the newly-elected Castro government is “moving in the right direction.”[56]

Call’s perspective is emblematic of the more moderate view that is likely to prevail in Congress when the budget for FY23 is passed: the dedication of funds to governments in the Northern Triangle is an otiose debate topic for most U.S. policymakers; among moderates, the more appropriate question is how to root out bad actors, whose actions dilute the efficacy of programs funded by plans like CARSI.

A number of arguably effective measures exist, such as indictments and extradition, the Engel list, support and expansion of DEA-vetted units, community violence prevention (CVP) programs, and more frequent and thorough reviews of the kinds of military and police training programs the U.S. pays for in Central America. The extent to which such measures can be fully executed is limited by certain key factors. “It’s just unfortunate,” Call states, “the attorney general in all three countries is not someone who’s committed to fighting corruption (…) and is quite committed to impunity in Guatemala and El Salvador.”[57] So far, the Engel list has not weakened commitments of this kind.

According to former U.S. ambassador to Guatemala, Stephen Macfarland, however, it’s still too soon to draw any conclusions about the efficacy of U.S. policy in Central America. In an interview in February with CNN en español, he explained:

“The warning signs [in Guatemala] have gone basically unheard by politicians and shamefully the economic elite. If one thinks of what has happened in Honduras with Juan Orlando Hernández, all that is an investigation that did not begin with (…) the president, but rather with other drug traffickers (…) during three consecutive governments in the United States, that investigation went on. So Guatemalans need to ask themselves: how different are they from Honduras? I would say, in many respects, Guatemala is worse.”[58]

Macfarland implies that impunity has a lifespan, and like former president Hernández of Honduras, Guatemalan president Giamattei and his administration will one day face justice themselves. Bukele, as well. It’s a matter of time and patience. For the Senators and Congresspeople calling to suspend CARSI funding, however, time and patience have run out.


Sources

[1] “Juan Orlando Hernández: Honduran ex-leader pleads not guilty”, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-61393266.amp

[2] “Guatemalan prosecutor labeled corrupt by U.S. gets tapped for new term”, https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/guatemalan-prosecutor-labeled-corrupt-by-us-gets-tapped-new-term-2022-05-17/

[3] “El Salvador extends state of emergency amid gang crackdown”, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/5/26/el-salvador-extends-state-of-emergency-amid-gang-crackdown

[4] “Letter to Chairwoman Lee”, https://cispes.org/sites/default/files/quill_-_letter_l3588_-_suspend_security_assistance_to_northern_triangle_in_fy23_-_version_1_-_04-26-2022_11-14_am.pdf

[5] “S.388 – Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act of 2021”, https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/388

[6] This article examines World Reports from the 1990’s up to the present day and finds an overall decline in the state of human rights in the Northern Triangle. An archive of HRW World Reports is accessible at https://www.hrw.org/previous-world-reports

[7] This article also considers the less frequently published yet far deeper analyses of the human rights situations in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala issued by the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights; it finds police and military repression are consolidated practices in each state and inevitably result in the denial of basic freedoms, including the right to life.

[8] Correspondence with the author

[9] Interview with the author.

[10] “MÉRIDA INITIATIVE The United States Has Provided Counternarcotics and Anticrime Support but Needs Better Performance Measures”, https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-10-837.pdf

[11] “The Central American Regional Security Initiative: A Shared Partnership”, https://2009-2017.state.gov/documents/organization/183768.pdf

[12] “How Honduras’s Congress Split in Two”, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/02/01/honduras-congress-split-crisis-xiomara-castro-inauguration-corruption-libre-national-party/

[13] “Guatemala’s Former Top Anti-Graft Prosecutor Decries Arrest Warrant”, https://insightcrime.org/news/guatemalas-former-top-anti-graft-prosecutor-decries-arrest-warrant/

[14] “US concerned over removal of top Salvadoran judges”, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-56970026.amp

[15] “El Salvador Declares State of Exception in Response to Wave of Murders”, https://www.coha.org/el-salvador-declares-state-of-exception-in-response-to-wave-of-murders/

[16] “Kamala Harris Rejects Actions of the President of El Salvador”, https://www.telesurenglish.net/amp/news/US-Rejects-Democracy-Violations-In-El-Salvador-20210503-0003.html

[17] “Designation of Attorney General Maria Consuelo Porras Argueta de Porres for Involvement in Significant Corruption and Consideration of Additional Designations”, https://www.state.gov/designation-of-attorney-general-maria-consuelo-porras-argueta-de-porres-for-involvement-in-significant-corruption-and-consideration-of-additional-designations/

[18] “United States of America v. Juan Orlando Hernández”, https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/press-release/file/1496096/download

[19] Cunha Filho CM, Coelho AL, Pérez Flores FI. A right-to-left policy switch? An analysis of the Honduran case under Manuel Zelaya. International Political Science Review. 2013;34(5): 526.

[20] “Honduras is Open for Business”, https://www.coha.org/honduras-is-open-for-business/

[21] “González: Hillary Clinton’s policy was a Latin American crime story”, https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/gonzalez-clinton-policy-latin-american-crime-story-article-1.2598456

[22] “The State Department’s Selective Indignation to Undemocratic Elections in Latin America”, https://www.coha.org/the-state-departments-inconsistent-and-ineffective-response-to-the-undemocratic-proliferating-through-latin-america/

[23] “Human RIghts Watch World Report 1996”,  https://www.hrw.org/reports/1996/WR96/Americas-08.htm#P719_175896

[24] “Human Rights Watch World Report 2012”, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2012

[25] “Human Rights Watch World Report 2013”, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2013

[26] “Human Rights Watch World Report 2014”, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2014

[27] “Human Rights Watch World Report 2015”, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2015

[28] “Informe Anual de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos 1984-1985”, http://www.cidh.oas.org/annualrep/84.85sp/Indice.htm

[29] “Situación de derechos humanos en Honduras”, ​​https://www.oas.org/es/cidh/informes/pdfs/Honduras-es-2015.pdf

[30] Mendez Gutierrez, Maria José, “Delegation Report Back: Lessons from Central American Resistance & Diasporic Solidarity,” Youtube video, 5:11, posted by “closethesoa,” May 24, 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiImEOIRJr8

[31] “CARSI IN GUATEMALA: Progress, Failure, and Uncertainty”, https://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/media/documents/publication/CARSI%20in%20Guatemala.pdf

[32] “Human Rights Watch World Report 2009”, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2009

[33] “Human Rights Watch World Report 2009”, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2010

[34] “Human Rights Watch World Report 2011”, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2011

[35] “Human Rights Watch World Report 2012”, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2012

[36] “Human Rights Watch World Report 2013”, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2013

[37] “Human Rights Watch World Report 2014”, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2014

[38] “Human Rights Watch World Report 2015”, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2015

[39] “Situación de derechos humanos en Guatemala: diversidad desigualdad y exclusión”, https://www.oas.org/es/cidh/informes/pdfs/Guatemala2016.pdf

[40] Matute, Arturo 2020. “Possibilities of Advancing Police Reform in Guatemala through Community -Oriented Policing,” Journal of Human Security, Librello publishing house, vol. 16(2), pages 97-110.

[41] Matute, Arturo 2020. “Possibilities of Advancing Police Reform in Guatemala through Community -Oriented Policing,” Journal of Human Security, Librello publishing house, vol. 16(2), pages 97-110.

[42] “Human Rights Watch World Report 2016”, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2016; “ Central America Regional Security Initiative: Background and Policy Issues for Congress”, https://sgp.fas.org/crs/row/R41731.pdf

[43] “Informe Anual 2015”, https://www.oas.org/es/cidh/docs/anual/2015/doc-es/InformeAnual2015-Cap4-Guatemala-ES.pdf

[44] “Human Rights Watch World Report 2019”, https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/world_report_download/hrw_world_report_2019.pdf

[45] “Human Rights Watch World Report 2022”, https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/media_2022/01/World%20Report%202022%20web%20pdf_0.pdf

[46] “Human Rights Watch World Report 2019”, https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/world_report_download/hrw_world_report_2019.pdf

[47] Martinez, Los Muertos y el Periodista (Barcelona: Editorial Anagrama, 2021) 30.

[48] “Human Rights Watch World Report 1996”, https://www.hrw.org/reports/1996/WR96/Americas-05.htm#P451_111820; “Human Rights Watch World Report 2019”, https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/world_report_download/hrw_world_report_2019.pdf

[49] “NORTHERN TRIANGLE OF CENTRAL AMERICA: The 2019 Suspension and Reprogramming of U.S. Funding Adversely Affected Assistance Projects”, https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-21-104366.pdf

[50] “Human Rights Watch World Report 2021”, https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/media_2021/01/2021_hrw_world_report.pdf

[51] “Human Rights Watch World Report 2020”, https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/world_report_download/hrw_world_report_2020_0.pdf

[52] “The Human Rights Situation in El Salvador 2021”, https://www.oas.org/en/iachr/reports/pdfs/2021_ElSalvador-EN.pdf

[53] “Human Rights Watch World Report 2021”, https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/media_2021/01/2021_hrw_world_report.pdf

[54] “Human Rights Watch World Report 2022”, https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/media_2022/01/World%20Report%202022%20web%20pdf_0.pdf

[55] “Audios de Carlos Marroquin revelan que masacre de marzo ocurrió por ruptura entree Gobierno y MS”,  https://elfaro.net/es/202205/el_salvador/26175/Audios-de-Carlos-Marroqu%C3%ADn-revelan-que-masacre-de-marzo-ocurri%C3%B3-por-ruptura-entre-Gobierno-y-MS.htm

[56] Interview with the author

[57] Interview with the author

[58] “La gente tiene hambre saber tras la investigación ‘Guatemala Testigo Protegido’”, https://www.audacy.com/cnnespanol/podcasts/conclusiones-23356/la-gente-tiene-hambre-de-saber-tras-la-investigacion-guatemala-testigo-protegido-segun-periodista-de-el-faro-1258204965

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