The US State Department has named 60 current and former officials, as well as some corporate figures, in its latest list of people suspected of corruption or undermining democracy in four Central American countries.
This year’s list focuses specifically on politicians, judges and others working to pile up the courts in Guatemala and judges and prosecutors involved in cases against opposition political figures in Nicaragua in that country’s presidential election last year. was focused.
The list was provided to the US Congress in compliance with legislation pushed by then US Representative Eliot Engel two years ago. Those who are enlisted typically become ineligible for entry into the United States and have their visas revoked.
“The United States remains committed to partnering with the people of Central America to strengthen democracy, improve the rule of law, and combat corruption,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Wednesday. “These individuals, through their significant corruption efforts to obstruct investigations into corruption, and undermine democratic processes and institutions, undermine the ability of governments in the region to respond to the needs of their citizens, irregular migration and contribute to destabilization of society.
The new list also names former officers in previous administrations in Honduras, such as Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla Valaderes, the former director of the National Police, who was brought to the United States in May to face drug trafficking charges. was extradited.
Former and current officials in El Salvador made the list, including President Nayib Bukele’s press secretary and the president’s legal adviser, who allegedly masterminded the removal of five Supreme Court magistrates and the attorney general.
While required by Congress, the annual list of corrupt actors or those threatening democracy aligns with the policies of the Biden administration that overestimate those issues. That shift from the Trump administration, which focused more on controlling immigration to relations with those countries, has led to more strained relations in the region.
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei has dismissed his attorney general’s criticism of US officials and what he sees as a backsliding in corruption-ridden Guatemala. The list includes the country’s new special prosecutor accused of obstructing corruption investigations.
According to the State Department report, several Guatemalans, including two Supreme Court magistrates, were reportedly involved in a plan to pile up the Supreme and Appellate courts with corrupt judges.
The Biden administration has also clashed with El Salvador’s Bukele, who has expressed concern that his tight grip on power is undermining the country’s democracy.
The nominees also include leaders of Bukele’s party in the Legislative Assembly. Christian Reynaldo Guevara Guadron listed “democratic processes or institutions to be undermined when he introduced a gang prohibition law that would impose a prison sentence of up to 15 years for spreading gang messages in the media, which has been criticized by many observers as Considered a clear attempt. Censor the media.”
The president’s press secretary, Jose Ernesto Sanabria, was accused of resigning over threats to “use his position and accuse Bukele of criminal offenses on officials who unreasonably pressured the influence of Bukele into opposition political parties.”
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega arrested dozens of opposition figures, including six potential challengers, in the run-up to last November’s presidential elections.
The list includes nearly two dozen Nicaraguan prosecutors and judges who participated in those cases and are now accused by the US government of undermining democratic processes.