About the Central America Monitor Project
El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras consistently rank among the most violent countries in the world. High levels of violence, corruption and impunity have undermined the states’ capacities to address the deep insecurity many of their citizens face.
Over the past three years, the arrival of thousands of Central American migrants—many of them unaccompanied minors—at the U.S.-Mexico border has brought renewed attention to the region and its challenges. Many of these children, teenagers, and their parents fled violent neighborhoods and a lack of economic opportunities in their home countries, as well as weak governments unable to protect them. One part of the response has been a considerable increase in foreign assistance intended to address these issues.
In 2015, the U.S. Congress approved a US$750 million aid package to implement a new multi-year strategy of engagement with Central America designed to help address the underlying conditions driving Central Americans to leave their countries. While former assistance to the region focuses primarily on strengthening security, the aid package recognizes, in principle, the need to reduce violence, strengthen institutions, combat corruption, and expand economic opportunities. The aid package includes a set of requirements for recipient countries concerning improvements in accountability and transparency, reforms of public institutions, anti-corruption, human rights, and participation, which the countries must meet in order to obtain the aid. The requirements are important and reflect a belief that international assistance will not make a difference unless these countries demonstrate a firm commitment to strengthening the rule of law, tackling corruption, and to addressing poverty and inequality. The majority of the assistance began to make its way to the region in early 2017, and in May the U.S. Congress approved another $655 million.
The Central America Monitor is working to ensure that U.S. assistance is strategically targeted, wisely invested and properly implemented, and that the governments of Central America are doing their part to meet key progress indicators for accountability and reform. We are doing this in two ways:
- Monitoring U.S. assistance programs that aim to reduce violence, strengthen law enforcement and the rule of law, combat corruption, and increase accountability and transparency through analytical reports and visual and user-friendly maps and graphs that make it easy to understand where the money is going, for what kinds of programs, and whether they are having an impact.
- Evaluating the progress that Central America is making in the fields of transparency, corruption, violence reduction, and justice and security reform through the use of a series of indicators.