US publishes list of alleged bad actors in Central America


GUATEMALA CITY – The U.S. State Department has named 60 current and former officials, as well as several corporate figures, in its latest list of people suspected of corruption or undermining the nation. owners in four Central American countries.

This year’s list specifically focuses on politicians, judges and others suspected of working to stop the courts in Guatemala and the judges and prosecutors involved in cases against the courts. opposition political figure in Nicaragua during that country’s presidential election last year.

The list was made available to the United States Congress under legislation introduced two years ago by then-U.S. Representative Eliot Engel. Those listed are generally ineligible for admission to the United States and have their visas revoked.

“The United States is committed to working with the people of Central America to strengthen democracy, improve the rule of law, and fight corruption,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Wednesday. “These individuals, through their substantial corrupt conduct, attempt to impede corruption investigations and undermine democratic processes and institutions, undermining the ability of governments in the region to in meeting the needs of citizens, contributing to irregular migration and social instability”.

The new list also names former officials in previous administrations in Honduras, such as Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla Valladares, the former Director of the National Police who was extradited to the United States in May. to face drug trafficking charges.

Former and current officials in El Salvador have been shortlisted, including President Nayib Bukele’s press secretary and the president’s legal adviser, who are accused of mastermind the removal of five Court justices. Supreme Court and Attorney General.

Though required by Congress, the annual list of corrupt agents or those who threaten democracy in line with the policies of the Biden administration adds weight to those issues. That shift from the Trump administration, which has focused its relations with those countries more narrowly on immigration controls, has led to more strained relations in the region.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei has dismissed US officials’ criticism of his justice minister and what they see as a setback in Guatemala in the fight against corruption. The list includes the country’s new special prosecutor resisting retribution, who is accused of obstructing corruption investigations.

According to a State Department report, several Guatemalans, including two Supreme Court justices, are accused of participating in a scheme to block the Supreme and Appellate Courts from participating judges. corruption.

The Biden administration has also clashed with El Salvador’s Bukele, expressing concern that his grip on power is undermining the country’s democracy.

Also among those named is Bukele’s party leader in the Legislative Assembly. Christian Reynaldo Guevara Guadron was shortlisted for undermining “democratic processes or institutions when he introduced a Gang Ban Law that would punish up to 15 years in prison for disseminating gang messages in the media.” , seen by many observers as an obvious attempt to censor the media. “

President José Ernesto Sanabria’s press secretary was accused of “using his position and using Bukele’s influence to improperly pressure officials in opposition political parties to resign because of threats to criminally charged”.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega arrested dozens of opposition figures in the run-up to last November’s presidential election, six of whom are likely to challenge.

The list includes nearly two dozen Nicaraguan prosecutors and judges who were involved in those cases and are now accused by the US government of undermining democratic processes.

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