VARIATIONS OF U.S. PUBLIC DIPLOMACY IN CENTRAL AMERICA'S NORTHERN TRIANGLE
Horn, Lyndsey L.
Mabry, Tristan J.
Giusti Rodriguez, Mariana
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This thesis utilizes a soft power framework to examine U.S. public diplomacy (PD) efforts in Central America’s Northern Triangle—El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala—between 2009 and 2016. During this period, the region experienced seemingly similar security, development, and migration challenges that affected U.S. foreign policy objectives; however, what would explain any variation in U.S. PD approaches to persuade or attract the host nation’s public within these three countries? This thesis analyzes U.S. foreign policy targeting El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, and then looks at complementary U.S. PD efforts from high-level official speeches and strategic communication (via conventional and social media). Overall, this thesis finds that variation in U.S. public diplomacy efforts across Central America’s Northern Triangle between 2009 and 2016 was the result of differences in the U.S. government’s prioritization of different soft power initiatives to support democracy. In El Salvador, the U.S. focused on strengthening its relationship with the executive branch; in Honduras, the U.S. centered on reestablishing the presidency after the military coup; and in Guatemala, the U.S. prioritized fighting corruption and impunity at the highest levels of government, including the presidency. Lastly, this thesis provides recommendations for the Biden administration as it seeks to attract target audiences in the Northern Triangle in conjunction with its foreign policy.
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