ACTION ALERT: No US Funds for Central America’s Military

September 17th, 2021 - by Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective / ActionNetwork

Take Action: Co-sponsor Amendment to
Restrict US Financial Support to Security Forces
In Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador

Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective / ActionNetwork

(September 16, 2021) — An important amendment introduced by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would prohibit “capacity building” funds for foreign security forces (Section 333) to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. 

ACTION: Contact your Representative to advocate for their support for the amendment TODAY!

THE LETTER: Sign-in Deadline — September 17, 2021

I am writing as your constituent ask for your support in cosponsoring an important amendment introduced by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to prohibit “capacity building” funds for foreign security forces (Section 333)  to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

In the past you have been supportive of ending military aid to Honduras by co-sponsoring the Berta Cáceres Human Rights Act (HR1574), which demands the suspension of US military and police aid to Honduras until human rights violations committed by Honduran security forces cease, and their perpetrators are brought to justice. This new amendment echoes these calls, and expands the suspension of funds to El Salvador and Guatemala.

To co-sponsor the amendment, reach out to Andrew in Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s office: Deadline to sign on to the amendment is this Friday, September 17.

Amendment language: “SEC. 13____ PROHIBITION ON USE OF FUNDS TO PROVIDE ASSISTANCE TO EL SALVADOR, GUATEMALA, OR HONDURAS. None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or otherwise made available to the Department of Defense to carry out section 333 of title 10, United States Code, may be made available to El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras.”

The following is text from a recent Dear Colleague letter which explains the need to restrict funding in each of the three countries. The letter was endorsed by many organizations focused on solidarity and justice in Central America, including the WFP Solidarity Collective, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), School of the Americas Watch (SOAW), Network in Solidarity with Guatemala (NISGUA), SHARE Foundation, Friendship Office of the Americas and others.

“The populations of all three countries are all experiencing a dangerous rise in state repression at the hands of elected leaders who seek to close off democratic spaces through the use of military and police forces.

“In Honduras, police and military forces kill protestors and engage in paramilitary operations, disappearing and assassinating human rights defenders; according to a Human Rights Watch report, between March and July 2019, at least 6 people were killed by state security forces during anti-government demonstrations.

“In one shocking example, state security forces killed at least sixteen people in demonstrations against electoral fraud in 2017. According to a 2018 report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, human rights defenders name government security forces as responsible for committing the majority of abuses towards them. The suspension of constitutional guarantees due to the COVID-19 pandemic also led to the detention of over 34,000 people accused of violating curfew and in one notable case a young nursing student, Keyla Martinez was killed while in police custody.

“In Guatemala, attacks on human rights defenders, including assassinations and attempted assassination have reached record highs in the post-war period, with a distinct increase during the first year of President Alejandro Giammattei. According to a February 2021 report by the UN Rapporteur on Human Rights, “the national police, the military police, and the armed forces [have continued to be identified] as the main perpetrators of human rights violations and attacks against [human rights] defenders.

“In 2020, the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights in Guatemala (OHCHR) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights condemned police brutality committed against demonstrations outside Congress.

“In El Salvador, President Nayib Bukele has repeatedly used military and police forces to intimidate legislators, undermine the separation of powers, and subvert the authority of independent state entities, including the Supreme Court of Justice and the Office of the Attorney General.

“Utilizing the military and police for political aims is a direct violation of the 1992 Peace Accords, which ended El Salvador’s twelve-year civil war. Furthermore, a report from the Human Rights Institute of the University of Central America (IDHUCA) documents an “increasing number of members of the National Civilian Police as well as soldiers who have been accused of homicide” in recent years.

“Since 2008, with the implementation of the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) the United States has spent upwards of $1.5 billion in a stated attempt to improve citizen security as well as to reduce drug trafficking and its related violence. But increased levels of US cooperation with military and police forces throughout this period have not reformed these institutions, despite stated objectives to the contrary, nor has additional conditioning of security assistance in recent appropriations bills.”

“Thank you for your consideration and support.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.