US adds Guatemalan prosecutors, Honduran minister and others to list of corrupt officials

Washington, Dec. 21 (EFE) – The United States on Thursday added three Guatemalan prosecutors who interfered in the presidential electoral process, the Honduran Minister of Strategic Planning, a Nicaraguan judge and three commissioners of the Salvadoran Transparency Institute to its list of corrupt actors in Central America.

Specifically, the Joe Biden administration sanctioned Guatemalan prosecutors Leonor Morales, Noé Rivera, and Pedro Otto Hernández, as well as former Supreme Court President Silvia Valdés Quezada, all of whom are accused of “undermining” democracy.

The US says these individuals tried to overturn the presidential election won by Bernardo Arévalo and persecuted judicial officials who fought corruption in Guatemala.

Morales, for example, said in a press conference that the elections should be annulled.

The United States also accuses Honduran Minister of Strategic Planning Ricardo Salgado of coordinating members of the Libre Party to “suppress dissent by violently intimidating” opposition legislators in Congress on Oct. 31, when the appointment of the new attorney general was being debated.

Salgado has been critical of the US government, which he has accused of conspiring against Honduran President Xiomara Castro and on Thursday that he was “proud” to be included in the list arguing that it ratified his “unwavering anti-imperialist stance.

He assured that his inclusion in the list of corrupt actors in Central America, known as the “Engel List,” only shows that it is made according to political criteria and does not defend democracy or honesty.

The US government also included Honduran businessmen Mohammad Yusuf Amdani Bai and Cristian Adolfo Sánchez, who have been linked to corruption cases.

Likewise, Nicaraguan judge Gloria Saavedra and civil servants Maribel Duriez and Ramona Rodríguez were added to the list for their responsibility in the government’s closure of the Central American University, one of the most prestigious educational centers in Nicaragua.

The same judge authorized the arrest of the bishop of the diocese of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez, one of the most critical voices against the government of Daniel Ortega.

Also included in the list were the president and three commissioners of the Salvadoran Transparency Institute, Ricardo Gómez, Gerardo Guerrero and Andrés Rodríguez, for “deliberately and unjustly blocking” access to information.

The Institute for Access to Public Information has been accused by civil society organizations of fostering opacity around the mandate of Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele.

In a statement, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller warned that corruption and anti-democratic practices in Central America “instability and drive irregular migration.”

For this reason, Miller asserted that the United States is working to “promote, preserve, and restore democratic norms” in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador by “tapping into a diverse set of accountability tools.”

The Engel list, named after the Democratic congressman Eliot Engel who promoted it in 2019, is drawn up by the State Department and includes the imposition of sanctions against those included in it. EFE


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