Durbin Highlights Recent CODEL to Guatemala, And Honduras, Amid Guatemalan Attorney General's Attempt to Nullify Fair Election

In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin says will of Guatemalan voters must be respected and calls for release of Guatemalan political prisoners Virginia Laparra and Jose Zamora

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) spoke on the Senate floor highlighting his recent trip to Guatemala and Honduras with U.S. Senator Tim Kaine and a bicameral group of Senators and Congresswomen where they met with elected officials, the private sector, and civil society leaders.  While in Guatemala, the country’s Attorney General attempted to nullify the results of the country’s recent free and fair elections—prompting strong condemnation from the delegation before national and international press.  In October, Bernardo Arévalo won in a decisive landslide election, pledging to tackle endemic corruption.  However, outgoing President Giamattei and Attorney General Porras are shamefully attempting to undermine the peaceful transition ahead of the January 14 inauguration.

“Both Guatemala and Honduras have struggled with conflict, corruption, stark inequality, and fragile democratic governments.  Many forget that until the 1980s, much of Latin America was led by military dictators, sometimes with Cold War-era support of the United States.  Guatemala’s bloody 36-year civil war only ended in 1996.  It’s a reminder of why U.S. attention to the region’s nascent and often fragile democracies is so important,” said Durbin.

The purpose of the trip was to discuss strategies to strengthen prosperity and security in the region and underscore the importance of democratic governance and the rule of law.  Maintaining democracy and political stability in Central America is critical for U.S. national security and the security of our borders.  In addition to Durbin and Kaine, U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Laphonza Butler (D-CA) and U.S. Representatives Norma J. Torres (D-CA-35) and Delia C. Ramirez (D-IL-03) were also in attendance.

“Unlike other elections in Central and South America, this election where Mr. Arévalo prevailed, was monitored by international sources, votes were audited, and [the election] was found to be still in his favor overwhelmingly,” Durbin said.  “In fact, shortly after President Giammattei didn’t show up for a meeting with us one morning, his government crudely tried to annul the recent election results.  This clumsy coup attempt—which was globally rejected—must not succeed.  The Guatemalan voters’ choice must be respected.”

Durbin also spoke about two Guatemalan political prisoners the Senators asked about, but were not allowed to meet with—former prosecutor Virginia Laparra and journalist Jose Ruben Zamora.  Both of them were charged on dubious corruption charges.

Durbin then spoke about the political climate in Honduras.  In 2021, the country elected its first female president, Xiomora Castro.

“Unfortunately, recent moves by her government raise real concerns about her commitment to democratic norms—and unfortunately, evidence of closer ties with China, Cuba, Venezuela, and even Russia.  President Castro still has an opportunity to show that we can work together for the common values that we share.  I hope she takes that path,” Durbin said.

Durbin concluded his speech by praising Kaine, who led the delegation.  Kaine serves as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere and previously worked as a missionary in Honduras.

“Early in Senator Kaine’s adult life, he spent a year in a Jesuit missionary teaching Hondurans how to be carpenters and welders.   He was at a Jesuit school forimpoverished children.  I want to commend him for that effort—what he calls his ‘north star’—that helped make him the thoughtful leader and one of the most admired Senators on the floor.  His commitment to the region is a reminder that we still have important allies and responsibilities in our own neighborhood,” Durbin concluded.

Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.