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

'Chepe Luna,' the Police and the Art of Escape

'Chepe Luna,' the Police and the Art of Escape

The United States -- which through its antinarcotics, judicial and police attaches was very familiar with the routes used for smuggling, and especially those used for people trafficking and understood that those traffickers are often one and the same -- greeted the new government of Elias Antonio...

Barrio 18 Leader 'Viejo Lin' on El Salvador Gang Truce

Barrio 18 Leader 'Viejo Lin' on El Salvador Gang Truce

Barrio 18 leader Carlos Lechuga Mojica, alias "El Viejo Lin," is one of the most prominent spokesmen for El Salvador's gang truce. InSight Crime co-director Steven Dudley spoke with Mojica in Cojutepeque prison in October 2012 about how the maras view the controversial peace process, which has...

MS-13's 'El Barney': A Trend or an Isolated Case?

MS-13's 'El Barney': A Trend or an Isolated Case?

In October 2012, the US Treasury Department designated the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) as a transnational criminal organization (TCO). While this assertion seems unfounded, there is one case that illustrates just why the US government is worried about the future.

Ivan Rios Bloc: the FARC's Most Vulnerable Fighting Division

Ivan Rios Bloc: the FARC's Most Vulnerable Fighting Division

When considering the possibilities that the FARC may break apart, the Ivan Rios Bloc is a helpful case study because it is perhaps the weakest of the FARC's divisions in terms of command and control, and therefore runs the highest risk of fragmentation and criminalization.

The Infiltrators: Corruption in El Salvador's Police

The Infiltrators: Corruption in El Salvador's Police

Ricardo Mauricio Menesses Orellana liked horses, and the Pasaquina rodeo was a great opportunity to enjoy a party. He was joined at the event -- which was taking place in the heart of territory controlled by El Salvador's most powerful drug transport group, the Perrones -- by the...

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...

The FARC 1964-2002: From Ragged Rebellion to Military Machine

The FARC 1964-2002: From Ragged Rebellion to Military Machine

On May 27, 1964 up to one thousand Colombian soldiers, backed by fighter planes and helicopters, launched an assault against less than fifty guerrillas in the tiny community of Marquetalia. The aim of the operation was to stamp out once and for all the communist threat in...

Criminalization of FARC Elements Inevitable

Criminalization of FARC Elements Inevitable

While there is no doubt that the FARC have only a tenuous control over some of their more remote fronts, there is no evidence of any overt dissident faction within the movement at the moment.

The Reality of the FARC Peace Talks in Havana

The Reality of the FARC Peace Talks in Havana

If we are to believe the Colombian government, the question is not if, but rather when, an end to 50 years of civil conflict will be reached. Yet the promise of President Juan Manuel Santos that peace can be achieved before the end of 2014 is simply...

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

In August 2002, the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) greeted Colombia's new president with a mortar attack that killed 14 people during his inauguration. The attack was intended as a warning to the fiercely anti-FARC newcomer. But it became the opening salvo of...