WE CANNOT GIVE UP ON THE GUATEMALAN PEOPLE; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 126
(House of Representatives - July 25, 2019)

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[Pages H7385-H7386]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from 
California (Mrs. Torres) for 5 minutes.
  Mrs. TORRES of California. Mr. Speaker, I rise today as the first 
person born in Guatemala to serve in the United States House of 
  I know the Guatemalan people have lived through many difficult times, 
and I know this because I was born there during the civil war. My 
parents made the heartbreaking decision to send me to live with my 
uncle in the United States when I was a little girl.
  But through it all, the people of Guatemala have not given up. They 
have continued to work to make a better life for their children and for 
their children's children. They have worked for justice, for democracy, 
and they have won important victories.
  In 1996, the efforts of the Guatemalan people ended the civil war; 
and in 2007, their search for justice led to the creation of the 
International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, an innovative 
institution whose mission was to help rid the country of corruption and 
organized crime. Working with brave Guatemalan judges and prosecutors, 
CICIG made real progress in improving Guatemala's justice system.
  Then, in 2015, Guatemalans of all ages and political stripes took to 
the streets to call for the resignation of massively corrupt President 
Otto Perez Molina, and they won.
  The long struggle of the Guatemalan people has led to a country that 
is safer and more just. The country's problems are far from resolved, 
but progress has been made.
  Today Guatemala is at a crossroads. CICIG has, unfortunately, been 
forced out, and the country is in the middle of an election season, but 
many Guatemalans fear that the current government will be replaced by a 
new government that is just as corrupt as the current and the previous 
  So many Guatemalans feel like they are alone, and some are losing 

[[Page H7386]]

but to the Guatemalan people I say this:
  You are not alone, and you cannot give up. Many of us here in the 
United States Congress understand your challenges. We understand what 
you are facing, and many of us refuse to believe the lies peddled by 
the corrupt political class and their lobbyists. And many of us will 
continue to stand with you, and we will keep on fighting for your cause 
because we know that it is our cause, too. We know that a more just and 
democratic Guatemala is only in the best interests of ours, as well, 
and we know that you want for your children the same thing that we want 
for our American children.

  I am confident that one day Guatemala will have a government that is 
worthy of its people, a government that works to advance justice, not 
to undermine and eliminate it; and one day, the United States 
Government will once again support the fight against corruption in 
Guatemala, and together, as partners, we will work toward a brighter 
and more prosperous and more democratic future.
  So in closing I say to my colleagues, we cannot give up on the 
Guatemalan people. And to the Guatemalan people I say:
  Do not give up on your future. Even in the darkness, we must look for 
signs of hope.
  And in 1990, a brave anthropologist named Myrna Mack was killed by a 
military death squad for speaking out about the abuses against 
indigenous Guatemalans, but her sister Helen worked to bring justice in 
her case and helped lead the effort to create CICIG. And now Myrna 
Mack's daughter Lucrecia is going to be a member of the Guatemalan 
  So we must remember Pablo Neruda's words: ``They can cut all the 
flowers, but they can't stop the spring.''