A top US State Department official said it would be an "intelligent" move for El Salvador and Honduras to consider establishing anti-impunity commissions, similar to the model that has been implemented in Guatemala. The sentiment highlights growing fears that organized crime and impunity in the Northern Triangle are beyond the control and capacity of existing national institutions. 

During a roundtable appearance in El Salvador, State Department Counselor Thomas Shannon said he thought it was wise of El Salvador and Honduras to consider support from the "international community" in their ongoing fight against impunity, reported La Prensa Grafica.

He went on to mention the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) as a possible model for such support, emphasizing that individual countries would need to make their own decisions about what type of model would work best for their national context. 

Shannon's statements come amid reported record levels of violence in El Salvador and huge corruption scandals in Guatemala and, to a lesser extent, Honduras

El Salvador's Constitutional Court has reportedly indicated there would be nothing unconstitutional about setting up a CICIG-like body in the country, according to La Prensa Grafica. While past administrations have floated the idea of an anti-impunity body as recently as 2010, the administration of current President Sanchez Ceren has made it clear that it does not think such a body is necessary. 

The CICIG is an internationally-led commission that was established with the help of the United Nations in 2007. It has been used to fight impunity, corruption and organized criminal networks in Guatemala.

InSight Crime Analysis

This is not the first time that the question has arisen of whether a body like the CICIG could be set up elsewhere in Central America. In June, protestors in Honduras demanded anti-impunity measures similar to those found in Guatemala.

While the judicial systems of the Northern Triangle are badly in need of reform, there are legitimate questions about whether the CICIG model is truly sustainable over time. As InSight Crime has previously noted, internationally staffed commissions like CICIG are inherently expensive to operate, giving rise to questions of who would fund such a body in El Salvador and for how long.

The CICIG was originally proposed as a short-term measure to build local capacity and independent judicial institutions in Guatemala. But eight years later, there is little indication that Guatemala's judicial system is capable of carrying out investigations into the highest levels of power without the CICIG leading the way. In some ways, Guatemala has become dependent on the CICIG to carry out such probes. This doesn't take away from the CICIG's very real achievements, but it does mean that if this model should be replicated elsewhere, there should be more focus on strengthening existing judicial bodies. 

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala is Central America’s most populous country and its largest economy. But an intransigent elite, an ambitious military and a weak state has opened the way for organized crime to flourish, especially since the return of democracy.

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Like any arm of the justice system, the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG) had its battles with elites who used their charm and their muscle to try to influence what and who the celebrated commission...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

In the northwest corner of Guatemala, a little known criminal organization known as the "Huistas" dominates the underworld, in large part due its ties with businessmen, law enforcement officials and politicians.

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Organized crime is not an abstract concept for me. I grew up in Oak Park, a leafy suburb of Chicago with a population of about 60,000. In general, it was a very low crime city, which is perhaps why many mobsters made their homes there, among them...

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Rodrigo Tovar Pupo never imagined it would come to this: dressed in an orange jumpsuit in a Washington DC courtroom and standing in front of a United States federal judge, the grandson of a wealthy Colombian cattle rancher and nephew to a governor was facing a possible...

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

By the end of 1993, Pablo Escobar was cornered. The cocaine king -- known as "El Patrón" -- was running out of money and options. His top assassins were either dead or had turned themselves in. Almost all of the senior members of the Medellín Cartel were...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

On the morning of April 5, 1988, Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros left his palatial Tegucigalpa estate for a jog. Matta Ballesteros was wanted for murder, drug trafficking and other crimes in several countries, but in Honduras he felt safe. He regularly hosted parties for high-level officials at...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

As it tends to happen in Honduras, the news began as a well-heeled rumor: Javier Rivera Maradiaga, the oldest of the three Rivera Maradiaga brothers still alive and leader of the feared and powerful Honduran drug trafficking group known as the Cachiros, had handed himself in to...

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

This project defines organized crime as: a structured group of people that associate on a regular and prolonged basis to benefit from illicit activities and illegal markets. This group can be local, national or transnational in nature, and its existence is maintained using violence and threats; corruption...