Rule of law, anti-corruption tested in Central America’s Northern Triangle


There are indications that Honduras may finally have the momentum and firepower to deal with its corruption problems, say analysts Ana Suazo and Henry Sullivan Atkins. The Indignados movement provided the strongest evidence yet that the Honduran public is closely following corruption issues. Hundreds of thousands of citizens, including young people who traditionally participate less in political affairs, protested against corruption in over 50 cities across Honduras last year, they write for the Harvard Political Review.

Corruption was on the agenda when the presidents of El Salvador, Salvador Sanchez Cerén; Guatemala, Jimmy Morales; and Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez; and the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, met at the Inter-American Development Bank today to discuss the Northern Triangle governments’ Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity and the United States Strategy for Engagement in Central America.

In their remarks, the Northern Triangle presidents highlighted the progress each government has made, at the national and regional levels:

In El Salvador, in the wake of the government’s efforts to improve security, homicides have dropped approximately 50 percent since the beginning of the year…In the fight against corruption, the Secretariat of Transparency and Anti-Corruption presented more than 150 cases of alleged corruption in public administration to the Attorney General’s Office.  The Attorney General’s Office has received support from the Executive, including additional funding to hire more assistant prosecutors.

Guatemala has significantly increased tax collection through judicial and administrative measures, and has adopted new methods to combat tax evasion and contraband.  The government continues to fight corruption and strengthen the Public Prosecutor’s office….

In Honduras, notable achievements include the implementation of the Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (known by its Spanish acronym MACCIH) and a sustained increase in tax revenue, projected to be 17.2 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2016.  In addition, there has been unprecedented progress by the Special Commission for the Clean-Up and Transformation of the National Police, which has removed 40 percent of Honduran police officers and referred information on their cases to the judicial system.

The Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH) aims to “capture the most corrupt individuals in the country.” But the MACCIH, as it is known in its Spanish initials, has an enormous task ahead, El Pais adds:

More than 90% of murder cases in Honduras go unsolved. Police are routinely accused of taking part in targeted killings. Mario Díaz, judge and President of the Association of Judges for Democracy in Honduras, explained recently that “judicial independence is a chimera.” Journalists are silenced, activists assassinated. The killing of human rights defender Berta Cáceres (above) provoked ripples of outrage in the international community in March, but the intellectual authors of her crime have yet to be found.

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