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  • A boy holds a sign reading "No more corruption" during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, May 30, 2015

    A boy holds a sign reading "No more corruption" during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, May 30, 2015 | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 February 2017

Backing anti-corruption efforts in the region appears to be a positive gesture if one forgets the decades-long history of U.S. aid as a destabilizing force.

The U.S. Congress introduced a resolution Thursday to continue supporting anti-corruption efforts across Central America, particularly in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. In these countries, decades of U.S. intervention through military or economic aid have contributed to rising rates of violence and corruption.

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The resolution, backed by both Republicans and Democrats, threw its support behind a number of international anti-corruption bodies and urged that national governments allocate sufficient resources for corruption cases. The resolution, however, will not include any new funding or a change of policy.

Along with violence, crime and insecurity, corruption has been a persistent problem across the Northern Triangle that has been met with ongoing protests and even the fall of heads of state. While many across the region have welcomed U.S. support for anti-corruption efforts, years of U.S. meddling in the region has not necessarily helped fight corruption and inequality in these countries.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the U.S. government sent aid to right-wing administrations in both El Salvador and Guatemala to squash leftist insurgencies that promoted equality and agrarian reform.

In 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supported a coup in Honduras that overthrew the democratically-elected president Manuel Zelaya. Since then, human rights violations and violence have increased. Current President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s political party has been embroiled in a corruption scandal which saw millions were filtered into his election campaign.

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In 2015, Otto Perez Molina resigned as president of Guatemala over the “La Linea” bribery scandal. His administration had received millions in funding from the U.S. for the police and military, stemming back to the U.S.'s historical anti-communist stance which backed right-wing figures in the region.

Before coming president, Perez Molina graduated from the U.S. Army School of the Americas and served in the Guatemalan Army. He has been accused of massacres against the country’s Indigenous population dating back to the country's civil war.

The resolution introduced by U.S. Congress is seen as a largely symbolic gesture to support governments in the region in their anti-corruption fight, but would not make any significant policy changes.

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