The Guardian’s Nina Lakhani reports:
A group of influential Democratic senators have introduced legislation which would sanction the president of Honduras – an alleged drug trafficker and key US ally – and cut off financial aid and ammunition sales to the country’s security forces which are implicated in widespread human rights abuses and criminal activities.
The Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act, co-sponsored by Senators Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders, Patrick Leahy, Ed Markey, Elizabeth Warren, Dick Durbin, Sheldon Whitehouse and Chris Van Hollen, would suspend certain US assistance to the Central American country until corruption and human rights violations are no longer systemic, and the perpetrators of these crimes start facing justice.
Joe Biden has vowed to tackle the root causes of migration from Central America’s Northern Triangle – Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador – the most violent region in the world outside an official war zone, which accounts for most migrants and refugees seeking safety and economic opportunities in the US.
This bill makes clear that tackling the misery driving migration from Honduras will be impossible if the US continues to prop up the president, Juan Orlando Hernández, and the security forces.
It lays bare the systematic violence and abuses perpetrated against civilians and activists since the 2009 military-backed coup, as a result of widespread collusion between government officials, state and private security forces, organized crime, and business leaders.
“The United States cannot remain silent in the face of deeply alarming corruption and human rights abuses being committed at the highest levels of the Honduran government,” said Merkley, who serves on the Senate foreign relations committee.
“A failure to hold President Hernández, national officials and the police and military accountable for these crimes will fuel widespread poverty and violence and force more families to flee their communities in search of safety.”
This is the first time the Senate has proposed legislation which could genuinely threaten the regime which has been in power since the 2009 coup.