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55 Central American officials on new list of U.S. corruption charges

, 55 Central American officials on new list of U.S. corruption charges

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The U.S. State Department published Thursday a list of 55 Central American officials and ex-officials who have been indicted for corruption, including former Honduran President José “Pepe” Lobo and his wife, former First Lady Rosa Elena Bonilla de Lobo.

, 55 Central American officials on new list of U.S. corruption charges

The list includes people who, according to Washington, are suspected of corruption or of undermining democracy in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, countries that make up the so-called “Northern Triangle” of Central America and on which the government of President Joe Biden has focused its strategy to curb irregular immigration to the US.

The registration of the names was released in compliance with the “Enhanced U.S.-Northern Triangle Engagement Act”, approved last December and promoted by the now-former Democratic congressman Eliot Engel.

This law establishes the creation of an “Engel list” of corrupt and undemocratic actors who will be denied entry to the U.S. and who will not be able to obtain visas to travel to that country.

In total, the report includes 55 officials accused of corruption: 14 from El Salvador, 20 from Guatemala, and 21 from Honduras.

In the case of Honduras, Washington accuses “Pepe” Lobo of having accepted bribes from a drug cartel and claims that his wife embezzled funds.

In addition, the State Department accuses congressmen Juan Carlos Valenzuela Molina, Welsy Milena Vásquez López, Milton Jesús Puerto Oseguera, Gustavo Albert Pérez, Óscar Nájera and Gladys Aurora López, among others, of corruption.

The report does not include the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, linked to drug trafficking activities by the New York Attorney General’s Office.

Regarding El Salvador, the report accuses Bukele’s chief of staff, Carolina Recinos, of engaging in “significant corruption through the misappropriation of public funds for personal gain” and claims she also participated in a money-laundering scheme.

The “blacklist” also includes Rogelio Rivas, who was removed from his post as Minister of Security in mid-March.

Also mentioned are José Luis Merino, who was Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, a former guerrilla and one of the main leaders of the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), and Sigfrido Reyes, former president of the Legislative Assembly for the FMLN and currently being prosecuted on corruption charges.

On the other hand, regarding Guatemala, the report mentions Congressman Boris Roberto España Cáceres and the former first secretary of the Guatemalan Congress, Felipe Alejos Lorenzana, who has already been sanctioned by the U.S. and is now accused of “having participated in acts of corruption to enrich himself”.

The “blacklist” includes Gustavo Adolfo Alejos Cámbara, former chief of staff of President Álvaro Colom (2008-2012), and former presidential candidate Mario Amílcar Estrada, sentenced to 15 years in prison for drug trafficking in February of this year by a New York court.

In a statement, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken explained that the objective of the list published today is “to support the people of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador in their efforts to build a democratic, prosperous and secure region.

U.S. President Joe Biden is committed to fighting corruption and promoting development programs in the “Northern Triangle” countries as part of his strategy to curb irregular immigration.

 

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