Honduras: Tensions high as anti-corruption probe faces pressure

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Posted in Honduras, USA

The legacy of elitist and political impunity in Central America is at a critical point this summer, as Honduran politicians both in the ruling party and the main opposition party weigh the decision to block or let alone a special investigation into misuse of public funds.

“At stake is not just the outcome of this investigation, but the survival of what is viewed as the most powerful brake on official misconduct in Honduras, where corruption is deeply entrenched.

Only Guatemala has a comparable anticorruption tool, which has proved to be a unique international experiment. There, an investigative group of international prosecutors backed by the United Nations has charged four former presidents since it was established more than a decade ago. Hondurans held weeks of torch-lit marches in 2015 to demand their own version.

The Guatemalan commission charged President Otto Pérez Molina with running a customs fraud scheme in 2015, forcing his resignation. He has been jailed since then — offering perhaps another reason Honduran legislators are uneasy about an inquiry on their own territory.

Officials in Washington have supported the anticorruption effort in Honduras, encouraged by the idea that improving the rule of law in the Central American country is a necessary step to overcome the poverty and violence that push thousands of Hondurans to try and enter the United States each month. But in foreign policy, other issues often take priority.”

“The Honduran government knows the Trump administration cares a lot more about immigration and drug trafficking than it cares about corruption,” said Charles Call, a professor at American University in Washington who leads an academic team that monitors the Honduran anticorruption commission.

This article, by Jeff Ernst and Elisabeth Malkin, originally appeared in the New York Times

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