Those who follow Washington’s policy for the Northern Triangle of Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) are forecasting sweeping changes with Joseph Robinette Biden already sitting in the chair that Donald Trump reluctantly left on January 20.
Regarding the North Triangle, the Donald Trump administration has repeatedly appealed to the old American policy of club and carrot, but it has nevertheless been more than benevolent when it comes to disbursing aid from all kinds.
In this way, he maintained his power and his hold over the administrations of the three countries.
With this duality, he made them very concerned, as a way to discipline them and add them to their interests, no matter what in each country.
So Trump threw lightning bolts and lightning bolts, calling them a “shitty country,” full of corrupt people and drug dealers.
But, on the other hand, he collaborated with the army and the police, while contributing funds to neutralize the very serious problem of irregular migration or humanitarian actions which, due to the prevailing corruption, have occurred. mostly found in the pockets of unscrupulous officials.
According to what analyst Carmen Rodríguez told the Anadolu Agency last December, “the shift in American policy towards the North Triangle countries in Central America for the next five years is already marked. (…) The changes include cuts in military aid and the publication of a list with the names of officials from the three countries linked to cases of corruption or drug trafficking. The State Department led by the Biden-Harris administration will focus regional policy on fighting corruption in the governments of the three countries and on the main causes of migration ”.
Meanwhile, according to Democratic Congresswoman Norma Torres, who was born in Guatemala and has extensive experience fighting corruption in the Northern Triangle countries, if support for corrupt officials is denied, the region could enter a period of crisis. greater stability and thus minimize irregularities. migration to the north.
His position is seen as overly optimistic, because even if the prevailing corruption is largely eradicated, other factors are fundamental to significantly improve the situation of Central Americans.
Among them, improving the economy, providing, among other measures, more job opportunities, which cannot be achieved overnight, no matter how hard you try.
In 2018, Torres passed an amended law that was passed in 2019, which requires the State Department to periodically publish a list of the names of corrupt officials in the Northern Triangle.
In the meantime, the White House has released some really laughable lists, as it failed to include serving officials with very serious charges, but included other figures who were on trial in their country or in the United States. for relations with organized crime.
The new initiatives Torres is promoting have similarities to the Alliance for Prosperity, a plan for the Northern Triangle designed and implemented under the administrations of Barack Obama.
These new policies are framed in the Omnibus Bill, a bill that was approved in December by Congress and ratified by Trump, whose actions would take effect 180 days after its enactment.
As vice president, Biden was the coordinator of the Alliance, which had little positive results as he was not serious about neutralizing corruption in the region.
However, Torres points out that while Trump was only interested in signing deals to tackle irregular migration, Biden, at the time, was working in the region, knows it, and is aware of issues of corruption and relationships. ‘a large part of political leaders and with organized crime, mainly in the form of drug trafficking.
As previously reported, although incomplete, there is already a list of corrupt individuals, but the list is expected to be drawn up as a result of the omnibus bill, which will be known as the “Engel List. “, as proposed by MP Eliot Engel, be more complete and include names which have so far remained outside the Torres amendment.
From this list, the United States will revoke visas, permits, diplomatic appointments and other statuses not only for government officials connected with corruption cases, but for all those connected with these crimes.
In addition, the US justice system should have the tools to include in its actions those who have allegations of involvement in drug trafficking, a crime for which the District Attorney for the Lower District of Manhattan, New York, can take action. . Against foreigners who are not in the country.
The sanctions under the omnibus bill even affect the relatives and personal relationships of the employees concerned, if they have in any way contributed to attributable crimes.
The problem does not end there, but charges can include those who commit or encourage harassment, violence or direct intimidation against state officials or non-state arbitrators for their actions against acts of corruption.
According to Congress recommendations to enforce this law, investigations against public officials or persons outside of state structures in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala will be conducted by the White House and the State Department and State Treasury. -United, in coordination with the embassies and the American authorities in the country concerned.
The proposed sanctions include cuts in military aid, prohibiting the State Department from “funding or supporting the purchase of weapons or military equipment” for the armed forces of the three Northern Triangle countries.
On the other hand, the document also states that the US government must ensure that threats and attacks against journalists, labor leaders, environmentalists, human rights defenders or activists and other members of civil society are properly investigated and those responsible for these crimes are brought to justice. to justice.
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Translation by Maria Isabel Santos Lima