Six members of the US House of Representatives have sent a letter to legislators in El Salvador urging them to elect a new Attorney General, highlighting the issue of US influence over local efforts to tackle corruption and impunity in Central America.

The letter, dated November 23 but only recently made public, was addressed to Lorena Peña, a member of leftist party the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the current president of El Salvador's Congress. In the text of the letter, the US Representatives make reference to an aid package being considered for Central America's Northern Triangle--including El Salvador--and urge El Salvador's Congress to elect a "new attorney general focused on defeating corruption and organized crime," reported La Prensa Grafica

The letter was signed by six US Representatives including Albio Sires (D-NJ), Norma Torres (D-CA), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Sam Farr (D-CA), and Eliot Engel (D-NY). 

El Salvador's attorney generals are typically nominated by civil society groups, or other interest groups, in order to be considered by Congress. Congress has the final say in selecting the attorney general, who serves a three-year term with the possibility of re-election.

Current Attorney General Luis Martinez's term ended on December 3. El Salvador's Congress has yet to re-elect Martinez or pick a successor. 

InSight Crime Analysis 

By urging for the election of a "new attorney general," the US Congressional letter is basically a vote of no-confidence for Luis Martinez. 

The political wrangling surrounding the attorney general post has also arguably been influenced by the wave of anti-corruption protests seen in Guatemala and elsewhere in Central America earlier this year. With the heightened sensitivity to concerns of corruption and impunity comes significant political pressure to make sure that El Salvador's Congress makes the right choice regarding its top law enforcement officer.

SEE ALSO:  El Salvador News and Profiles

Notably, this past year Martinez has faced allegations of corruption. In particular, his office's handling of a money laundering and tax evasion case against the presumed leader of the Texis Cartel, Jose Adan Salazar Umaña, alias "Chepe Diablo," has drawn public scrutiny. 

Journalist Hector Silva Avalos told InSight Crime that the "Washington factor" is likely not helping Martinez's prospects for re-election, saying that a letter from six US representatives is a big deal in the El Salvador political landscape. However, Silva Avalos noted that the possibility of Martinez being re-elected should not be ruled out. He said that it is unlikely that the next attorney general will be named before the end of the year.  

Investigations

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

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

As Guatemala's Congress gears up to select new Supreme Court Justices and appellate court judges, InSight Crime is investigating how organized crime influences the selection process. This story details the interests of one particular political bloc vying for control over the courts and what's at stake: millions of ...

The Victory of the Urabeños - The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime

The Victory of the Urabeños - The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime

The mad scramble for criminal power in the aftermath of the demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) is over. The Urabeños, or as they prefer to call themselves, the "Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia," have won.

50 years of the FARC: War, Drugs and Revolution

50 years of the FARC: War, Drugs and Revolution

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is in sight. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, for themselves and especially for their children, the enemies of the peace negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the ...

Mexico’s Security Dilemma: Michoacan’s Militias

 Mexico’s Security Dilemma: Michoacan’s Militias

Well-armed vigilantes in Mexico's Michoacan state have helped authorities dismantle a powerful criminal organization, but now the government may have a more difficult task: keeping Michoacan safe from the vigilantes and rival criminal groups.

Uruguay, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

Uruguay, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

After the lower house passed the controversial marijuana bill July 31, Uruguay is poised to become the first country on the planet to regulate the production, sale, and distribution of the drug, and provide a model for countries looking for alternatives to the world’s dominant drug policy paradigm. ...

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

After the capture of Zetas boss "Z40," Nuevo Laredo is bracing itself for the worst. This investigation breaks down what makes the city such an important trafficking corridor, and what it will take for the Zetas to maintain their grip on the city.

El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives And Negatives

El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives And Negatives

Whether it is sustainable or not, the truce -- which the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Barrio 18 put into place March 2012 -- has changed the conventional thinking about who the gangs are and what is the best way to handle the most difficult law and order ...

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is in sight. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, for themselves and especially for their children, the enemies of the peace negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the ...

Corruption in El Salvador: Politicians, Police and Transportistas

Corruption in El Salvador: Politicians, Police and Transportistas

Since the end of El Salvador's civil war, the country's police has become a key player in the underworld. This series of five articles explore the dark ties between criminal organizations and the government's foremost crime fighting institution.

Juarez after the War

Juarez after the War

As a bitter war between rival cartels grinds to an end, Ciudad Juarez has lost the title of world murder capital, and is moving towards something more like normality. InSight Crime looks at the role politicians, police, and for-hire street gangs played in the fighting -- asking who ...