Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Central American Parliament

DISCLAIMER -- I am about to write on a topic on which I know nothing: the Central American Parliament.   But according to a recent poll, 85% of Salvadorans don't know much about it either.  Still on March 1, voters will cast their votes for El Salvador's twenty deputies in the Central American Parliament, known by the acronym PARALACEN.

The member countries of PARLACEN are Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and Panama. (Costa Rica has not joined). It is the political arm of the Central American Integration System (SICA), founded in the late 1980s to "strengthen the dialogue, the common development, democracy and pluralism as fundamental elements for peace in the region and for the integration of Central America."

From the website of the parliament:
Parlacen acts as the regional and permanent organ of political and democratic representation of the SICA with the aim of realizing the Central American integration.  It seeks to achieve a peaceful coexistence within the framework of security and social welfare, not only based on a representative and participative democracy, but also in pluralism, in respect for national legislation and International Law.... 
The PARLACEN is composed of 20 representatives of each member state....Furthermore, former presidents and vice-presidents of the Central American states remain members of the PARLACEN, even after their term of office, for a duration laid down in the constitutions of each individual country. 
Each member state elects its representatives and deputies in accordance with its national electoral law.
While the goals of participative democracy and Central American integration are fine ones, there is no real evidence of concrete progress which PARLACEN has achieved in the past 25 years.  An article titled Falling Out and Falling Apart? from 2009 by Daniel Zueras at IPS describes PARLACEN's role in the overall context of the ineffective efforts towards Central American integration.   

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