Central American officials blacklisted by U.S. as part of corruption crackdown
02 Jul 2021

Central American presidential aides, top judges and former presidents were put on a U.S. State Department list on Thursday that names individuals the U.S. government accuses of corruption, obstructing justice, or undermining democracy.

The so-called Engel List was created under a law sponsored by then-U.S. Representative Eliot Engel and enacted by Congress in December that required the State Department to assemble within 180 days a list of high profile individuals it regarded as corrupt in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

Listed officials will have any U.S. visas revoked and will be unable to enter the United States, the State Department said.

Seven current and former top Salvadoran officials appeared on the list, including President Nayib Bukele’s Labor Minister Rolando Castro, Cabinet Chief Carolina Recinos, and former Justice and Security Minister Rogelio Rivas.

Bukele has drawn international criticism, including from the United States, over the recent ousting and replacing of senior judges and the attorney general.

More than a dozen Honduran lawmakers and two senior Guatemalan judges were also named, including recently appointed Constitutional Court judge Nester Vasquez.

Castro, Recinos, Rivas and Vasquez did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Others could not be reached for comment.

Ricardo Zuniga, U.S. special envoy for Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, told reporters that tackling corruption in the region would help lessen migration to the United States and Mexico.

Some observers in Central America questioned why the report did not include the names of certain individuals widely considered to have links to drug cartels. Zuniga said the list was not static and that the United States could use “other tools” to address organized crime in the region.

By Nelson Renteria, Sofia Menchu, Gustavo Palencia and Ted Hesson, Reuters, 1 July 2021

Read more at Reuters

Read the Engel List here

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