CIP's Central American Program works with local civil society
groups, international organizations and governmental institutions
to advocate for environmental transparency, accountability,
and justice in Central America.
History and Current Work:
The Center for International Policy was founded with the
mission of promoting a U.S. policy based on international
cooperation, demilitarization and respect for human rights.
Since its early years, CIP has had a keen interest in the
region and no where has the need for our work been more tangible.
A U.S. policy based on militarization and a lack of respect
for human rights has had tremendous impact on most of Central
America. -- from the CIA-backed overthrow of Guatemalan president
Jacobo Arbenz in 1954, to the support of the Contras in Nicaragua
and right-wing death squads in El Salvador in the 1980's.
The decades of misguided U.S. policies have been major factor
as to why many regional governments today are plagued by corruption,
weak institutions, flawed justice systems and a lack of transparency.
Today, many U.S. policy-makers and politicians continue to
view Central America as their 'back yard,' as evidenced by
the clumsy - and ultimately unsuccessful -- efforts to influence
the 2006 Nicaragua presidential elections.
It is with this social, political and historical context in
mind that CIP's Central American program along with its local
partners has created initiatives to strengthen democracy in
CIP's Central America Program began to work in Honduras in
2003, supporting the efforts of the Environmental Movement
of Olancho (MAO), and its most visible leader, Father Andres
Tamayo, in their struggle to curb the illegal logging which
was quickly demolishing Honduras's forests. In illegal logging,
CIP saw an issue which encompassed broader democratic principles
that represents the Center’s guiding principals. ,
Our work in Honduras planted the seed for what would eventually
become an autonomous organization which carries on CIP's work
to strengthen the Honduran democracy: the Democracy without
Borders Foundation (Fundacion Democracia sin Fronteras). Officially
inaugurated in May 2006, the Foundation has already become
a leading civil society organization, spearheading multiple
high-impact initiatives to curb illegal logging, create a
culture of transparency and promote the importance of access
Beyond Honduras: Nicaragua and El Salvador
In the spring of 2006, encouraged by our success in Honduras,
CIP decided to continue its work in Central America, and initiated
a campaign against illegal logging in Nicaragua. Working closely
with well-known Nicaragua journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro,
CIP produced a powerful documentary to expose the illegal
logging that was taking place throughout the country, and
pressure the Nicaragua government to make reforms to curb
it, weed out corruption, and punish those involved in the
activity. The documentary, along with accompanying news articles,
and a CIP-sponsored international conference, generated a
tremendous amount of feedback, and put the issue in the national
spotlight in the months leading up to the November elections.
Today, CIP continues to work with local groups in Nicaragua.
In 2007 CIP began to focus on El Salvador, positioning the
issue of access to water as a human right. Despite sufficient
water supplies, insufficient investments and political will
has left thousands of Salvadorans without access to a dependable
and safe water supply. As with illegal logging, the lack of
access to water reflects larger issues of anti-democratic
tendencies, such as a highly unequal distribution of wealth
and resources. CIP has partnered with several Salvadoran civil
society groups to build a national movement to advocate for
a coherent national policy on water access, treatment, and
distribution, and to put the issue on the national agenda
as the March 2009 elections approach.