The Central American Parliament (Spanish: Parlamento Centroamericano), also known as PARLACEN, is the political institution and parliamentary body of the Central American Integration System (SICA). Its headquarters are in Guatemala City.
|Central American Parliament |
|Founded||28 October 1991|
|Preceded by||Contadora Group|
President of the Central American Parliament
Tony Raful Tejada (Dominican Republic)
Since October 2017 - October 2018
| Parliamentary Left (28) |
Democratic Center (62) Non-inscrits (3)
The PARLACEN origins date back to the Contadora Group, a project of the 1980s that sought to help resolve the civil wars in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Although the Contadora group was disbanded in 1986, the idea of a greater Central American integration remained, giving rise to the Esquipulas II Agreement, which among other things, created the Central American Parliament. The Treaty establishing the Central American Parliament and other political bodies was signed in 1987; its first formal session was carried out on 28 October 1991 in Guatemala City.
The PARLACEN as a political body in the region is part of the Central American Integration System SICA, established by the Protocol of Tegucigalpa to the Charter of the Organization of American States (ODECA) signed on 13 December 1991. SICA has the fundamental aim to realize an integration that is political and ideological representative in a pluralistic democratic system that guarantees free elections and participation under equal conditions for political parties.
The historic Declaration of Esquipulas I, which was adopted by the presidents of the Central American states in the city of Esquipulas (Guatemala) on 25 May 1986, included the following declaration: "It is necessary to establish and complement activities that support understanding and cooperation with institutional structures. They shall make possible to strengthen the dialogue, the common development, democracy and pluralism as fundamental elements for peace in the region and the integration of Central America. Therefore the foundation of PARLACEN is necessary. Its members are elected freely by universal and direct elections through which the principle of political and participative pluralism is followed."
The agreement of PARLACEN and other political authorities was signed in October 1987 by Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras. In the beginning, it was an instrument which came into force for only three states (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras) on 1 May 1990. PARLACEN was formed on 28 October 1991 and has its head office in Guatemala City, Republic of Guatemala.
PARLACEN as the political organ of this region is part of the Central American Integration System (SICA). It was admitted into the Charta of the Organisation of the Central American States (ODECA) by the Protocol of Tegucigalpa signed on 13 December 1999. The basic aim of SICA is to realize the integration of Central America to make it a region of peace, freedom, democracy, and development.
PARLACEN is the regional assembly of SICA and acts as a permanent political organ to represent opinions and to carry out analyses and discussions about political, economic and cultural affairs of common interest, of basic conditions for democracy, peace, and the integration of Central America, as well to work out initiatives for its realization. It is charged with furthering human rights and international law, to achieve a peaceful coexistence within the framework of security and social welfare, a mission which is well-founded in representative and participative democracy, in pluralism, and in respect for national legislation and international law.
PARLACEN has the status of a legal entity according to international law. Becoming a representative of the Central American Parliament is one of the tactics most often used by corrupt politicians to escape scrutiny following their tainted spell in office.
The following countries comprise the PARLACEN:
Between 1998 and 2010, the Dominican Republic sent 22 appointed members. Since 2010, it has been a full member of the Central American Parliament with delegates elected directly by universal suffrage. (See note)
President of Panama Ricardo Martinelli vowed he would remove Panama from PARLACEN, fulfilling a campaign promise. On 11 December 2009, law 78 passed withdrawing Panama from PARLACEN, but a resolution of the Central American Court of Justice declared the law unconstitutional. The court said there is no mechanism to withdraw from the PARLACEN and Panama could not opt out. In January 2012, the Panamanian Supreme court re-affirmed that ruling and Panama returned to PARLACEN. Panama also showed more interest in membership after SICA signed a free trade agreement with the European Union.
The PARLACEN is the regional and permanent organ of political and democratic representation of the System of Central American Integration (SICA) with the main purpose to realize the Central American integration.
PARLACEN's organisational structure consists of the Plenum, the Board of Parliament, and the Secretary Office.
The Plenum is the highest body of PARLACEN and is includes all representatives. The committees and parliamentary parties are also involved with its tasks.
The responsibilities of the Plenum are the following:
The parliamentary committees are parliamentary authorities who – in order to draw up a corresponding report – are supposed to conduct studies and examinations which are either within their sphere of competence or are directed to them by the board or the Plenum.
The working committees of PARLACEN can be structured as follows.
Permanent commissions are established in the internal rules to work on affairs of the commission with unlimited duration. The permanent commissions are formed of at most two representatives per state, not exceeding twelve members in total.
As of 2015, there were thirteen permanent commissions:
There is also a delegation of EUROLAT.
Extraordinary commissions are established by the Plenum for affairs that are of special importance and institutional significance for PARLACEN as well as for the process of integration.
Special commissions are established by the board of parliament to handle special affairs.
The parliamentary groups monitor the political trend of the Central American representatives and are organized according to the political orientation of their groups.
The parliamentary groups are founded by the adoption of an internal statute by the plenary assembly. The board of parliament registers each parliamentary group. The statute is published and states the group's ideological principles, the political objectives and the regulations.
In 2016-2017 there were four parliamentary groups: The Democratic Alliance,The Parliamentary Group of the Left, Centre-Democratic Integration and Democratic Integrationist Union
The board of parliament is the executive body for decisions that emerge from the Plenum and is the administrative body of PARLACEN. It is expandable according to its internal rules.
The board of parliament is elected from the members. Its term is one year, made up of one president, five vice-presidents, and six secretaries.
The board makes its decisions by approval of a majority of its members. In the event of a tie, the votes of the presidency count as qualified majority. The presidency is filled by a rota system corresponding to the alphabetical order of the member states, starting with the state which holds the head office.
It is possible to appeal any resolution at the Plenum.
The tasks of the board are
The secretary office is the technical-administrative organ of PARLACEN and is divided into three sections, which have the following basic functions and responsibilities:
The secretary office for parliamentary affairs handles and obeys the decisions of PARLACEN. It reports to the Plenum on a regular basis and is of technical assistance to the Plenum as well as to the commissions in all of their activities. It coordinates and manages the advice of the commissions and has to assist the extended board with developing the agenda for Plenum meetings when necessary.
The secretary office for administration and finance has to administer all branches, manager’s offices, departments and administrative units, as well as the personnel of PARLACEN, and has to control the proper administration of its resources.
The secretary office of the board offers technical help to the board in questions relating to the responsibilities of and the topics determined by the board.
|President||Term in Office||Country|
|Roberto Carpio Nicolle||October 1991 – October 1992||Guatemala|
|Ilsa Diaz Zelaya||October 1992 – October 1993||Honduras|
|Jose Francisco Merino Lopez||October 1993 – July 1994||El Salvador|
|Victor Augusto Vela Mena||July 1994 – October 1994||Guatemala|
|Roland Valenzuela Oyuela||October 1994 – December 1995||Honduras|
|Raul Zaldívar Guzmán||December 1995 – October 1996||Honduras|
|Ernesto Lima Mena||October 1996 – October 1997||El Salvador|
|Marco Antonio Solares Pérez||October 1997 – October 1998||Guatemala|
|Carlos Roberto Reina||October 1998 – October 1999||Honduras|
|Jose Ernesto Somarriba Sosa||October 1999 – October 2000||Nicaragua|
|Hugo Guiraud Gargano||October 2000 – October 2001||Panama|
|Rodrigo Samayoa Rivas||October 2001 – October 2002||El Salvador|
|Victor Augusto Vela Mena||October 2002 – October 2003||Guatemala|
|Mario Facussé Handal||October 2003 – October 2004||Honduras|
|Fabio Gadea Mantilla||October 2004 – October 2005||Nicaragua|
|Julio Enrique Palacios Sambrano||October 2005 – October 2006||Panama|
|Ciro Cruz Cepeda Pena||October 2006 – October 2007||El Salvador|
|Julio Guillermo González Gamarra||October 2007 – October 2008||Guatemala|
|Gloria Guadalupe Oquelí Solórzano de Macoto||October 2008 – October 2009||Honduras|
|Jacinto José Suárez Espinoza||October 2009 – October 2010||Nicaragua|
|Dorindo Jayan Cortez Marciaga||October 2010 – October 2011||Panama|
|Manolo Pichardo||October 2011 – October 2012||Dominican Republic|
|Leonel Búcaro||October 2012 – October 2013||El Salvador|
|Paula Rodríguez||October 2013 – October 2014||Guatemala|
|Armando Bardales||October 2014 – October 2015||Honduras|
|José Antonio Alvarado Correa||October 2015 – October 2016||Nicaragua|
|Priscilla Weeden de Miró||October 2016 – October 2017||Panama|
|Tony Raful Tejada||October 2017 – October 2018||Dominican Republic|
The 20 elected members representing every member state the Central American Parliament are elected at the same time as the presidential elections of the member state according to article 2 of the Internal Regulations of the Central American Parliament. The former president of every member state, as well as every vice-president and prime minister, are also de jure members of the PARLACEN from the end of their term till the end of their successor's term.