Guatemalan Anti-corruption Commission Faces Challenges

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Former Attorney General of Costa Rica Francisco Dall’Anese Ruiz takes seat as head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). Dall’Anese is known for leading anti-corruption investigations. Photo:

August 27, 2010 – According to the Inter Press Service (IPS), the new head of the United Nations mandated International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) is set to face continuous episodes of corruption and hidden power structures.   

This month, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed Francisco Dall’Anese Ruiz, former Attorney General of Costa Rica, to head the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). Dall’Anese will replace outgoing Commissioner Carlos Castresana, who announced his resignation on June 7, 2010.   

Dall’Anese is known for leading the major anti-corruption investigations against former Costa Rican presidents Rafael Ángel Calderón (1990-1994) and Miguel Ángel Rodríguez (1998-2002). He has acknowledged the achievements of CICIG, yet stressed the importance of Guatemalans being involved in the fight against impunity. According to political analyst Carmen Ortiz, CICIG faces challenges in safeguarding the independence of the judicial system and maintaining its credibility among civil society—particularly during the upcoming 2011 presidential campaign in Guatemala.   

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Costa Rica asks for U.S. cooperation beyond Mérida Initiative

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Costa Rica's President Laura Chinchilla insists on greater “civil but not military” anti-drug cooperation with the U.S. Photo: AP / Monica Quesada

On August 17, 2010 Costa Rican President, Laura Chinchilla, urged the United States to initiate an anti-drug aid program solely for Central America in an internview with the Associated Press.  While Costa Rica, and the rest of Central America, is included in the $1.8 billion Mérida Initiative, the fight against drug trafficking in Mexico has historically received more fiscal attention from U.S. policymakers.

Although the current implementation of the Mérida Initiative is said to terminate at the end of 2010, the Obama Administration has already requested a FY2011 budget of $450 million for Mexico alone– four times the current budget for Mérida programs in all of Central America, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti.  The Mérida Initiative was first proposed by the Bush Administration in 2007 after the president’s trip to Latin America.  In Guatemala and Mexico President George W. Bush met with Central American leaders to identify the major security threats to the region which unequivocally included gangs, drug trafficking, and illicit trafficking of arms.

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Tres exitosos programas de apoyo a jóvenes en riesgo

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24 de Agosto:CEPAL presentará tres exitosos programas de apoyo a jóvenes en riesgo

Hoy, el 24 agosto, 2010, La Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL) presentará tres exitosos proyectos de Argentina, Colombia y Guatemala que apoyan a jóvenes en riesgo social en la región en el Tercer encuentro para la réplica creativa de experiencias innovadoras de apoyo a jóvenes en situación de riesgo que se realizará en San José, Costa Rica.

Le recomendamos que siga el evento por medio de webcast, y valoramos su comentario en esta página a conclusión del evento.

El evento será inaugurado a las 13.30 horas (hora de San José, Costa Rica) por la Presidenta de Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla, con la participación de Hernando Paris, Ministro de Justicia y Paz del país, y María Elisa Bernal, directora del proyecto Experiencias en Innovación Social, de la CEPAL. Es coordinado por la CEPAL y los Ministerios de Justicia y Paz y de Bienestar Social y Familia de Costa Rica.  Para transmisión del evento en vivo, hacer clic aquí.

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President Obama names new Ambassador to El Salvador

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Puerto Rico-born attorney Mari Carmen Aponte is known for her commitment to issues of poverty, education, and minorities' access to public services. Photo Credit: Hispanic National Bar Association

On Thursday, August 19, 2010, President Obama appointed Mari Carmen Aponte as ambassador to El Salvador. Previously blocked due to her alleged involvement with Cuban Intelligence, Obama bypassed the Senate confirmation process by means of a congressional recess appointment to secure Aponte’s position as ambassador to El Salvador. At a time when our nation faces so many pressing challenges, I urge members of the Senate to stop playing politics with our highly qualified nominees, and fulfill their responsibilities of advice and consent. Until they do, I reserve the right to act within my authority to do what is best for the American people,” commented Obama.

Aponte, a Puerto Rican attorney, was a White House Fellow under President Jimmy Carter in 1979, served as director of the National Council of La Raza, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, and presided over the Hispanic National Bar Association. In addition to Aponte’s previous experience working with minorities and women’s programs, her efforts to expand voting rights and registration in Puerto Rico have developed close relations with Latino leaders and communities in the U.S.

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U.S. Launches Security Initiative for Central America

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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with Central American leaders in Guatemala City. Photo: March, 2010, U.S. State Dept

On August 5, 2010, the U.S. Department of State announced the launch of a $165 million initiative to combat security issues in Central America by instituting the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI).

Central America has faced decades of social and political upheaval as a result of the prevalence of trafficking routes controlled by powerful narco- and arms traffickers and various crime organizations. In effect, the region has suffered from a collapse of security structure and deterioration of its citizens’ safety. In addition, public distrust in government corruption and officials’ inability to provide solutions to crime has led to the social and economic isolation of communities and individuals unable to participate in prosperous, safe environments.

CARSI strives to produce a safe region where criminal organizations no longer exercise power to destabilize governments and threaten national and regional security as well as transnational threats to countries within the region and the US.

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USAID leader visits Seattle; Reps. McDermott and Smith Comment on Central America

Panel left to right: Silvia Mathews Burwell, Ahktar Badshah, Congressman Jim McDermott, Dr. Rajiv Shah, Prema Arasu, Chris Elias, and Congressman Adam Smith

This week Seattle hosted Dr. Rajiv Shah of USAID (formerly of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), reaffirming the city’s growing role in development issues. “It is the aspiration to work on those [global] problems that brings us together today. It’s the right thing to do and it’s our moral imperative,” said Dr. Shah at St. Mark’s Cathedral. SIF’s Executive Director Mauricio Vivero spoke to Dr. Shah and offered our help and partnership in Central America, reminding Dr. Shah about our community’s commitment to the region, and the importance of investing in countries so close and critical to U.S. interest– drugs, immigration and trade.

During a public event Shah held with federal officials, Congressman McDermott spoke about his diplomatic trip to El Salvador in 1989—a time in which the country was in the midst of a civil war, and he noted the many people from Washington State helping distribute humanitarian aid and working with many Central American grassroots organizations.

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President of Costa Rica Comments on Leadership

SIF Executive Director with Costa Rican President, Laura Chinchilla

By Mauricio Vivero, Executive Director of Seattle International Foundation

I recently had the opportunity to attend the CALI conference in Costa Rica and had the pleasure of meeting President Laura Chinchilla, who gave an interesting speech about political leadership and the main issues affecting Central America. President Chinchilla said it was inspirational to meet with so many CALI fellows who are all examples of leadership in the region. She also said that finding one’s vocation and calling in life can take time, and in order to be successful in public service one must be very realistic, yet passionate. “Public service is full of obstacles, and you need passion to keep you going and move ahead,” she said. She also noted that sometimes you must make changes to the law to promote social good, such as new programs. President Chinchilla acknowledged that in other instances, the law is clear, but the political will necessary for progress is lacking.

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Este blog fue creado para apoyar a la Red Centroamericana y animar al diálogo alrededor de investigaciones relevantes, noticias y esfuerzos de alivio a la pobreza en la región.
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