By Milagro Orellana
The United States reiterated its concern about the high levels of corruption in Latin America, and the growing challenges it faces in dealing with the problem, that directly impacts democracy, human rights, and weakens citizens' confidence in their institutions, according to senior State Department officials.
The Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Brian Nichols included persistent corruption in Venezuela among the challenges, the political crisis in Nicaragua, and the rule of law and democratic institutions in El Salvador and Guatemala.
In counterweight he cited Honduras, that although she faces "immense challenges, we hope that the President-elect -Xiomara- Castro generates changes that favor a more transparent governability and a stronger rule of law…”, he explained.
The current Honduran president, Juan Orlando Hernández, whose government was tarnished after being linked to alleged cases of corruption and links to drug trafficking will leave power at the beginning of 2022, and will give way to the Castro administration, the first woman to take the laughs of the Central American country.
with those changes, The US hopes that the new president will work on the establishment of an internationally backed coalition to combat corruption, Nichols added.
Nichols spoke during a conference call with the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Todd Robinson, just days after the Summit for Democracy promoted by President Joe Biden, whose main theme was the fight against corruption.
The Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Todd Robinson said that since the beginning of his administration, Biden made the fight against corruption a national security priority, after acknowledging the capacity it may have to weaken democracy.
He recalled that the national security team is working to establish a comprehensive strategy that effectively improves the United States' ability to prevent corruption., effectively combat illicit finance, hold corrupt actors accountable, and build the capacity of activists, researchers and journalists.
Meanwhile, Nichols recalled that in response to corruption, US uses tools to promote accountability, while Vice President Kamala Harris announced the formation of a task force focused on the northern region of Central America.
Nowadays, has a public active reporting line that facilitates investigations by a Department of Justice team specialized in combating acts of transnational bribery, kleptocracy and drug trafficking that have a nexus with the United States.
Added to that more than 60 people were included in the list of corrupt and undemocratic actors, an anti-corruption tool designed for Central America by the United States Congress in 2020, Nichols said.
Both officials agreed that corruption and attacks on democracy are on the rise in some countries, including Central America, which makes it increasingly necessary to strengthen the fight for better transparency, and strengthen democracy.
Ups and downs in Central America
About Nicaragua Todd Robinson said that the situation "is extremely worrying" after the presidential elections that keep Daniel Ortega in power.
In this context, he recalled that given the magnitude of the problem, sanctions against government officials had to be established., in addition to the resolutions of the Organization of American States (OAS) that condemn "the anti-democratic and illegal actions" by the rulers.
He recalled that the US priority is the release of political prisoners in Nicaragua, for which global alliances between countries and organizations such as the OAS are required, which will also allow maintaining cohesion so that Nicaragua resumes the path of democracy.
In the case of El Salvador, Nichols cited that several officials were sanctioned after investigations by the Department of Justice and other organizations revealed hidden negotiations between government officials., and the "criminal organization MS13" known as Mara Salvatrucha.
“We are extremely concerned about the actions of those people who harmed the Salvadoran people and the international community., why, as you all know, the Mara Salvatrucha has international ties”, he explained.
Regarding Venezuela, Robinson explained that they will maintain alliances to curb drug trafficking from the South American country, not only to the United States., but to other countries in the region.