The inclusion of scores of officials and former officials of some Central American countries on a list of corruption links by the U.S. was received with mixed reactions in these countries.
As previously reported by Bloomberg Línea, 60 “corrupt and undemocratic actors” are part of the Engel List as “foreign persons who have knowingly engaged in actions” of corruption or obstruction to investigations into illegal government practices in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
According to Anthony Blinken, US Secretary of State, the release of the Engel List, his government wants to “support those building a brighter future” in the countries mentioned in Section 353.
Section 353 derives from the US-Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act passed in December 2020 to fight the main causes of migration from the countries in this region.
Besides naming the actors the US considers to be involved in corruption practices, they are generally ineligible for visas and admission to the United States.
While the US says the list “shines a light on those people who undermine the rule of the law and take the path of corruption,” some officials in the region reacted with mixed positions on the inclusion of current and former officials.
Honduras Foreign Ministry said the release is an interventionist action by the U.S. and rejected its contents.
“The government of Honduras wishes to express its categorical rejection of the Engel List as a politically motivated and interfering document (…) The nature and intention of this list denotes a permanent manipulation and an interventionist policy that many times in the past ignored the motives it now invokes,” said the ministry.
In turn, Guatemala said the list “exposes individuals undermining the rule of law and taking the road of corruption.” The Guatemalan Embassy in the U.S. said the government will side with the citizens of the countries involved in Section 353 in the search “for a better future.”
The list includes 6 people, including Jose Wilfredo Salgado, mayor of San Miguel; Francisco Javier Argueta, current presidential advisor; Christian Reynaldo Guevara, a deputy at the Legislative Assembly; and Jose Ernesto Sanabria, the current Presidential Press Secretary.
There are 16 people, including Jose Rafael Curruchiche Cacul, the current chief of the Public Ministry’s Office of the Special Prosecutor Against Impunity (FECI); Alejandra Castillo, current director of the Victim’s Institute; Nery Oswaldo Medina, a current Supreme Court of Justice magistrate; and Jose Luis Benito Ruiz, the former Minister of Communications and Infrastructure (2018-2020).
15 people are involved, including Claudia Yamilia Noriega, Project Coordinator for the ‘Catracha Card’, Edgardo Antonio Casaña Mejia, a current member of Congress; and Javier Rodolfo Pastor Vasquez, Minister of Health from 2006 to 2009.
There are also 23 people on the list from Nicaragua. Some of them are Yubelca del Carmen Perez Alvarado, a prosecutor in the Public Prosecutor’s Office headquarters in Managua; Martha Ileana Morales Mendoza, a prosecutor and the Director of Planning at the Public Prosecutor’s Office; and Maria Francis Perez Mojica, a prosecutor in Nueva Segovia.