US Congress votes to block military aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala

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Soldiers from the USA and Mexico stand in a line, firing machine guns
U.S. Army Soldiers and the El Salvador Army Parachute Battalion fire Minimi weapon during a small unit familiarization program platoon exchange in San Salvador, El Salvador, May 2006.

On December 21st the US Congress voted to approve an omnibus finance bill that – among many other things – included restrictions on foreign military financing for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The ban - which was pushed by Rep. Norma Torres (D-Pomona), the only Central American immigrant serving in Congress – doesn’t include security aid from the Pentagon to fight drug trafficking.

The move has been welcomed by solidarity organisations like the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), who said the move reflects growing concerns in Congress about the Bukele administration’s authoritarian tendencies. CISPES highlighted President Bukele’s use of the El Salvador’s armed forces to pressure the country’s legislative assembly to approve a $109 million dollar loan from the Central American Economic Integration Bank (BCIE) to finance the “Territorial Control Plan,” a primarily hardline policing and militarization initiative, and the militarised response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The State Department's Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program "provides grants for the acquisition of U.S. defense equipment, services and training .. [in order to] enable key allies and friends to improve their defense capabilities and foster closer military relationships between the U.S. and recipient nations." $5.6 billion is distributed to more than a dozen countries annually – in 2020 El Salvador received $1.9 million.

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