This weekend, a delegation arrived in Guatemala City on behalf of the U.S. House of Representative’s House Democracy Partnership (HDP) program. 

IRI will coordinate the assessment with close collaboration from the National Democratic Institute (NDI).  Our delegation is a diverse representation of the HDP core.  The U.S. House of Representatives will be represented by a bi-partisan team of two of the HDP members’ staff.  NDI and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will each have a delegate, and I am fortunate enough to represent IRI. 

Assessments such as these are an important step in determining the viability of creating additional HDP partnerships in countries such as Guatemala, which indicate a commitment to strengthening a transparent and inclusive democracy.  IRI and HDP consistently work to foster relationships with our 19 partner countries to ensure that democracy continues to flourish and evolve.   Through legislative exchanges with members of parliament and staff, and through technical assistance consultancies in our partner countries, IRI and HDP provide a unique platform for the sharing of best practices and technical assistance amongst the partner countries. 

Guatemala has undergone a dramatic democratic evolution over the past few decades.  It has made significant progress in achieving macroeconomic and democratic stability after a 36-year civil war. Since the signing of the Peace Accords in 1996, the country has increased access to international markets through several trade agreements and created more accountability for elected officials. In 2015, Guatemalans watched in awe as President Otto Pérez Molina and other administration officials, were charged with corruption and removed from power.  Despite this substantial progress towards democracy, Guatemala continues to face widespread corruption and violence stemming from gangs and drug cartels. 

As a delegate, I look forward to the opportunity to meeting with Guatemala’s democratic stakeholders, including civil society leaders, legislative leadership and the President, Jimmy Morales.  The delegation will also explore potential opportunities for collaboration between HDP and the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala.  A potential partnership with HDP could assist in ensuring that Guatemala’s democracy, as well as our relationship, continues to grow and thrive.

Personally, I can’t wait to hit the ground running in Guatemala City. Prior to joining IRI’s Global Initiatives team, I worked extensively on issues pertaining to Central America as an advisor to the Co-Chair of the U.S. House Central America Caucus.  In this role I provided recommendations on U.S. policy and assistance pertaining to the Northern Triangle and worked with a bi-partisan team of members and staff to appropriate conditional funding to Guatemala that seeks to strengthen democratic processes and assist with citizen security.  I am excited now for the opportunity to support Guatemala’s democratic development from the NGO angle, and to work with our delegation in our assessment and to meet the diverse group of leaders our agenda includes.  Stay tuned for updates throughout the assessment. 

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