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Defending Hope Against Fear And Repression In Honduras

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For more than a decade, the United States has been an outspoken advocate of justice and the rule of law. It figured among the most avid supporters of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, known by its Spanish initials as Cicig, a United Nations body established to root out organized criminal networks and promote judicial and legislative reforms aimed at consolidating democracy. It supported the election of attorneys general committed to working with the commission.

American ambassadors attended human rights trials in a public show of support for victims of crimes against humanity. Ambassadors joined ranks with civilian protesters. I had the opportunity to travel with one former ambassador in to remote rural communities to highlight the economic needs and emphasize the equal citizenship rights of Guatemala’s indigenous people, who make up about 40 percent of the country and are overwhelmingly poor.

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Such support has been critical to the progress achieved over the past several years. The commission and the attorney general’s office made steps in dismantling organized criminal networks that lined the pockets of corrupt officials and business executives. Their gains are measured by hundreds of arrests of officials and businessmen. The process has prompted a civil society awakening in which rural and urban, indigenous and non-indigenous, and even forward-looking members of the traditional elite are forging alliances to push for essential political and fiscal reforms. Sensing that the United Nations commission is serious about cracking down on corruption and that the United States no longer has their backs, traditional elites are gradually conceding that change is needed.

Guatemalan political authorities, including the entourage of the president, Jimmy Morales, and his majority in Congress have been waging a losing battle to protect a dying status quo. American and popular opposition blocked their efforts to expel the United Nations commissioner, and they forced Congress to rescind a law that would have protected politicians who accepted illicit campaign funds.

President Morales and his cronies are now counting on the Trump administration to save their skin. They supported Mr. Trump’s candidacy; Guatemalan congressmen even attended Republican fund-raising events and the Republican National Convention.


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Source : https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/02/opinion/cold-war-central-america.html

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