Ranking America’s Love for Five Central American Countries

What the State Department’s National Day Greetings for Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica say about their relationship with the United States

A man holds a Nicaraguan flag in Granada City, Nicaragua. (Reuters)

On September 15, five Central American countries—Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica— mark the anniversaries of their independence from Spain. “Like the best birthday celebrations,” CNN swooned in 2013, “the events are marked with glorious parades, street parties, festivals, and family gatherings.”

These celebrations also require beleaguered staffers at the State Department to pen five different diplomatic statements in honor of the occasion. With the limits of diplo-speak and the ease of the cut-and-paste era, it’s not surprising to see these well-wishes have some rhetorical overlap.

Nevertheless, some telling nuances also shine through. Despite the shortness of the statements, it’s easy to get a sense of the American relationship with each of the five countries. Which country gets four paragraphs and some Spanish or a personal anecdote from Secretary of State John Kerry and which ones only get three and a gentle chiding about corruption. Which countries boast stronger economic ties to the United States and which ones are enduring sustained protests. Here are the five statements ranked in terms of relative warmth:

1. Nicaragua’s National Day

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Nicaragua as you celebrate 194 years of independence.

From the autonomous regions of the Caribbean coast to the coffee producing highlands of the north, from the fertile lands of Occidente to the pristine beaches of the Pacific, from Ometepe to Solentiname, may your Días Patrios be filled with the spirit of liberty that was present back in 1821.

I know that this day will be celebrated throughout the country by enthusiastic school bands  “desfiles patrios”.  I had a chance many years ago to visit and meet the many faces of Nicaragua.  The pride of the Nicaraguan people left a lasting impression on me.  May Independence Day 2015 unite all Nicaraguans to celebrate independence, democracy, and peace.

In the coming year, the United States will continue to work with our Nicaraguan partners in civil society, education, business, and government to promote the values that both our nations cherish.

Happy Independence Day 2015.

​2. Costa Rica’s National Day

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States of America, I congratulate the people of Costa Rica as you celebrate your 194th year of independence on September 15, 2015.

The friendship between Costa Rica and the United States is rooted in the common values that our countries share.  We look forward to continuing to build upon our partnership in strengthening democratic institutions, expanding inclusive economic growth, confronting climate change, and making our communities safer.

More than one million U.S. citizens visit your country each year, a testament to Costa Rica’s enduring beauty and environmental riches as well as the cultural and economic ties that bind our two nations together.

Pura vida and best wishes for a festive and jubilant celebration.

​3. Guatemala’s National Day

On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I extend our best wishes as you celebrate the 194th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Guatemala on September 15.

These are extraordinary times for Guatemala, and the Guatemalan people rightfully celebrate your independence with a great sense of national pride.  You have shown your commitment to the fight against corruption and impunity through both peaceful demonstrations and the democratic process.

As you navigate these historic moments, know the United States is committed to both continuing and expanding our close cooperation.

We look forward to strengthening the bond between our two nations now and in the years ahead.

4. Honduras’s National Day

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Honduras as you celebrate the 194th anniversary of your independence.

In the last year, the United States and Honduras have worked in close partnership on addressing the key priorities outlined in the Alliance for Prosperity.  We share a commitment to strengthen security, improve governance, and boost economic growth.  Our countries share a vision where we can build capacity in law enforcement and judicial institutions, deepen respect for human rights, and fight against corruption and impunity. Working together, we can further these goals while strengthening the bond between our two nations.

I wish all Hondurans peace and prosperity in the year ahead.

5. El Salvador’s National Day

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate El Salvador on the 194th anniversary of its independence on September 15.

As the Salvadoran government and people work to address the significant challenges facing the country, the United States renews our commitment to stand with you as a friend and partner in that effort.  We are confident that the proud and hardworking people of El Salvador can come together, united by the common goal of building a more secure and prosperous country for all Salvadorans.

As El Salvador celebrates Independence Day, may the pride you feel for your country serve to strengthen both your national unity and your commitment to working together toward a brighter future for El Salvador.