Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy: Central American Democracy Faces Existential Threats

Democracy in Central America is facing existential threats.  In Guatemala, the Constitutional Court is under assault by the Congress and the Executive.  If the Court’s magistrates are replaced with cronies of the other branches of government, any semblance of a credible justice system will be lost. 

In Honduras, corruption permeates the highest ranks of government, civil society activists are under attack, and the justice system is complicit in perpetuating lawlessness and impunity. 

El Salvador is becoming a one party state, where the separation of powers has little meaning and the president behaves as though he is the government. 

The Nicaraguan government is, by any definition, a dictatorship that will use whatever means it deems necessary to try to prevent a free and fair election.

Meanwhile, the Central American people struggle with abject poverty, food insecurity, gang violence, a lack of confidence or trust in their leaders, and little hope for a better future.  It is no wonder that so many of them risk everything and leave their homes for the possibility, no matter how remote, of safety and economic opportunity elsewhere.

Without good governance, no amount of foreign aid will fundamentally change this dynamic. The Biden Administration and the U.S. Congress should reassess our relations with these governments that are the antithesis of credible partners, and in doing so reaffirm our strong commitment to defending the rights of the Central American people and the principles of government of the people, by the people, and for the people. 

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