Durbin Joins Kaine in Bicameral Congressional Delegation Visits to Guatemala and Honduras to Discuss Democracy, Stability, Migration, Economic Growth, and Security

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) will join U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, who serves as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, on a congressional delegation visiting Guatemala and Honduras to meet with elected officials, the private sector, and civil society leaders.  Durbin and Kaine will be joined by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Laphonza Butler (D-CA) and U.S. Representatives Delia Ramirez (D-IL-03) and Norma Torres (D-CA-35).  During their meetings, the lawmakers will 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.

“Our bicameral trip to Guatemala comes at a critical moment for the country’s democracy amid ongoing protests following provocative actions by the Public Ministry,” said Durbin.  “I have raised concerns for months about further democratic backsliding in Guatemala, as well as the surrounding region of Honduras, with cowardly attacks on the free press and efforts to expose government corruption.  I am hopeful this trip brings productive conversations toward a better democracy for the people of Guatemala and Honduras, and look forward to working with soon to be inaugurated Guatemalan President-Elect Arévalo.”

The Public Ministry’s actions (Guatemala’s justice department) include the raiding of facilities holding electoral materials, opening of ballot boxes, and intimidation of peaceful protestors, among other brazen acts. The Public Ministry has also filed spurious charges against President-elect Bernardo Arevalo, Vice President-Elect Karin Herrera, and other officials and attempted to strip them of their pre-trial immunity. While President Alejandro Giammattei has publicly acknowledged Arevalo’s electoral victory, the Public Ministry continues to systematically attempt to undermine the electoral transition and engage in targeted investigations against the president-elect's political party and other democracy defenders.  In November, Senators Durbin, Kaine, Merkley, and Welch condemned those attacks on democracy in Guatemala, and underscored how those actions are destabilizing for the entire region.

In Honduras, the ruling party’s decision to use a procedural workaround to unilaterally appoint their preferred candidate as interim Attorney General has similarly raised concerns about undermining the credibility of independent institutions.  In April, Durbin, Kaine, Ramirez, and Torres called on the Biden Administration to continue protecting displaced Hondurans by redesignating Honduras for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).