{"code":"25893","sect":"Central America","sect_slug":"central-america","hits":"1821","link":"http:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202112\/centroamerica\/25893","link_edit":"","name":"Treasury Dept.: Salvadoran Government Pacted with MS-13","slug":"treasury-dept-salvadoran-government-pacted-with-ms-13","info":"Central America, in Brief: As world leaders met for Biden's Democracy Summit, the U.S. delivered a major blow to the Bukele administration by sanctioning senior officials for leading covert gang negotiations and accusing his chief of cabinet of spearheading a &quot;multiple-ministry, multi-million dollar corruption scheme.\u201d Not invited to the Summit, Guatemala\u2019s Giammattei made his own trip to D.C. to court support from the U.S. right wing. Subscribe to our newsletter","mtag":"Newsletter","noun":{"html":"El Faro English","data":{"el-faro-english":{"sort":"","slug":"el-faro-english","path":"el_faro_english","name":"El Faro English","edge":"0","init":"0"}}},"view":"1821","pict":{"cms-image-000036365-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"36365","name":"cms-image-000036365.jpg","link":"http:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036365.jpg","path":"http:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036365.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000036365-jpg","text":"","capt":""},"cms-image-000036795-jpg":{"feat":"1","sort":"36795","name":"cms-image-000036795.JPG","link":"http:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036795.JPG","path":"http:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036795.JPG","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000036795-jpg","text":"<p>Borromeo Sol\u00f3rzano (\"Diablo de Hollywood\"), a longtime figurehead of MS-13 and one of the gang's lead negotiators with the Bukele administration. Ever since President Bukele's party in the legislature removed the magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber in May, the Salvadoran Supreme Court of Justice has declined repeated U.S. requests to extradite Sol\u00f3rzano and more than a dozen other MS-13 leaders on charges including terrorism and drug trafficking. Taken in the Ciudad Barrios Maximum-Security Prison in San Miguel. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EBorromeo Sol\u00f3rzano (\"Diablo de Hollywood\"), a longtime figurehead of MS-13 and one of the gang's lead negotiators with the Bukele administration. Ever since President Bukele's party in the legislature removed the magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber in May, the Salvadoran Supreme Court of Justice has declined repeated U.S. requests to extradite Sol\u00f3rzano and more than a dozen other MS-13 leaders on charges including terrorism and drug trafficking. Taken in the Ciudad Barrios Maximum-Security Prison in San Miguel. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\u003C\/p\u003E"}},"pict_main__sort":36795,"date":{"live":"2021\/12\/09"},"data_post_dateLive_YY":"2021","data_post_dateLive_MM":"12","data_post_dateLive_DD":"09","text":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn just two days, the U.S. Treasury Dept. has handed down hefty financial sanctions against three key officials in Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele\u2019s government.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe first move came Wednesday when the Treasury Dept. accused two key Salvadoran officials of brokering \u003Cstrong\u003Ea secret agreement with gangs MS-13 and 18 Street to secure a nationwide reduction in homicides\u003C\/strong\u003E and gang violence, covert support for the president\u2019s party in the 2021 legislative elections, and enforcement of the government\u2019s Covid-19 quarantine in gang territory.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn exchange, according to the Treasury Dept., \u003Cstrong\u003EBukele\u2019s administration paid \u201cfinancial incentives\u201d to the gangs\u003C\/strong\u003E and granted cell phones and access to sex workers to the imprisoned leaders involved in the negotiations. In September 2020 El Faro \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202009\/el_salvador\/24785\/Bukele-Has-Been-Negotiating-with-MS-13-for-a-Reduction-in-Homicides-and-Electoral-Support.htm\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Euncovered the negotiations\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E, the existence of which the Bukele administration fervently denies. \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202108\/el_salvador\/25670\/Criminal-Investigation-Found-the-Bukele-Administration-Hid-Evidence-of-Negotiations-with-Gangs.htm\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003EThis August\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E, El Faro reported evidence of a government cover-up of the talks based on an official investigation carried out by the former Attorney General\u2019s Office.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe Treasury Dept. placed Global Magnitsky Act sanctions \u2014 a freeze of U.S. assets and ban on doing business in the U.S. or with U.S. nationals \u2014 on the Bukele administration\u2019s two lead negotiators, including Vice Minister of Justice and Director of Prisons Osiris Luna. The department also sanctioned Luna\u2019s mother for helping her son in a separate scheme to steal and resell $1.6 million in\u003Cstrong\u003E food destined for families affected by the pandemic.\u003C\/strong\u003E An El Faro investigation \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202109\/el_salvador\/25736\/Top-Bukele-Official-Embezzled-$16-Million-in-Covid-19-Emergency-Food-Supplies.htm\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Erevealed evidence of the embezzlement\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E two months ago.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOn Thursday the Treasury Dept. added Bukele\u2019s chief of cabinet, Carolina Recinos, to its Magnitsky list for orchestrating\u003Cstrong\u003E \u201ca multi-ministry, multi-million dollar corruption scheme\u201d \u003C\/strong\u003Eincluding by directing ministers to authorize inflated or suspicious contracts related to the government pandemic response and the mid-pandemic construction of the flagship Hospital El Salvador. In return, \u201cSalvadoran government officials and some of President Bukele\u2019s advisors\u201d received \u201ckickbacks.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe department also accused Recinos of coordinating the diversion of government Covid-19 food baskets \u201cfor the use of specific Nuevas Ideas candidates to garner \u003Cstrong\u003Esupport in the February 2021 municipal and legislative elections.\u201d\u003C\/strong\u003E Just two weeks ago, El Faro reported that the mayor of San Salvador and Bukele\u2019s former minister of governance \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/202111\/el_salvador\/25828\/Investigaci%C3%B3n-Catedral-concluy%C3%B3-que-Mario-Dur%C3%A1n-y-Nuevas-Ideas-usaron-el-PES-para-campa%C3%B1a.htm\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Econverted government food relief into handouts for his 2021 mayoral campaign\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOne lingering question is whether, in referencing \u201ckickbacks\u201d in the Recinos-led scheme to \u003Cstrong\u003E\u201csome of President Bukele\u2019s advisors,\u201d\u003C\/strong\u003E the Treasury Dept. was referring to the \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/202106\/el_salvador\/25520\/El-gabinete-oculto-de-venezolanos-que-gobierna-con-Bukele-y-su-familia.htm\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Eshadow cabinet of Venezuelans in the Salvadoran government\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E with ties to Juan Guaid\u00f3.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u201cIt\u2019s clear that the U.S. government doesn\u2019t accept collaboration, friendship, or alliances,\u201d responded Bukele \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/twitter.com\/nayibbukele\/status\/1469006407127244802?s=20\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Eon Twitter\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E on Thursday, adding: \u201cIt\u2019s absolute submission or nothing.\u201d He later \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/twitter.com\/nayibbukele\/status\/1469045510442864642\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Eshared screenshots\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E of an apparent \u003Cstrong\u003Econversation over WhatsApp with former interim ambassador Jean Manes\u003C\/strong\u003E, in a failed attempt to claim that she had asked for the release of an opposition politician involved in previous gang negotiations.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=2000&ImageHeight=1333&ImageId=36795\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Borromeo Sol\u00f3rzano (\"Diablo de Hollywood\"), a longtime figurehead of MS-13 and one of the gang's lead negotiators with the Bukele administration. Ever since President Bukele's party in the legislature removed the magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber in May, the Salvadoran Supreme Court of Justice has declined repeated U.S. requests to extradite Sol\u00f3rzano and more than a dozen other MS-13 leaders on charges including terrorism and drug trafficking. Taken in the Ciudad Barrios Maximum-Security Prison in San Miguel. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003EBorromeo Sol\u00f3rzano (\"Diablo de Hollywood\"), a longtime figurehead of MS-13 and one of the gang's lead negotiators with the Bukele administration. Ever since President Bukele's party in the legislature removed the magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber in May, the Salvadoran Supreme Court of Justice has declined repeated U.S. requests to extradite Sol\u00f3rzano and more than a dozen other MS-13 leaders on charges including terrorism and drug trafficking. Taken in the Ciudad Barrios Maximum-Security Prison in San Miguel. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EMuch of the evidence from the corruption cases included in these new sanctions \u003Cstrong\u003Ehas been in the hands of El Salvador\u2019s Attorney General\u2019s Office for over a year\u003C\/strong\u003E, based on the investigations of a special prosecutors\u2019 unit created by former AG Ra\u00fal Melara to investigate illicit negotiations with gangs and corruption in the current administration.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAfter the Legislative Assembly, controlled by Bukele\u2019s party, illegally removed Melara from office in May, \u003Cstrong\u003Ede facto Attorney General Rodolfo Delgado disbanded the prosecutors\u2019 unit\u003C\/strong\u003E, and the investigations haven\u2019t advanced since.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIt\u2019s also unclear how the Treasury Dept.\u2019s moves against the officials leading the Bukele administration\u2019s gang negotiations will affect Congressional Republicans\u2019 postures toward Bukele, given that as president, Donald Trump called MS-13 one of the principal threats to U.S. national security. \u003Cstrong\u003EBukele has invested millions of dollars in white-shoe D.C. lobbying firms\u003C\/strong\u003E to promote the notion that his rift is solely with the Democratic Party.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"font-size: medium;\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EUnwanted at the Democracy Summit\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe exclusion of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua from the Democracy Summit from Dec. 8-10 is the latest effort by the White House to assert that the undemocratic trends in the isthmus have not gone unnoticed, and will have isolation consequences in the international arena.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn a \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.state.gov\/summit-for-democracy-preview\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Epress briefing\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E on Dec. 2, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Juan Gonzalez cited Central American governments\u2019 \u201cconcerning actions,\u201d particularly in El Salvador. Illegally replacing judges with Bukele loyalists, restricting access to public information, and \u003Cstrong\u003Erefusing to fight corruption\u003C\/strong\u003E were all reasons Bukele did not receive an invite, according to Gonzalez.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EGonzalez warned of\u00a0\u201cconfusing popularity with a mandate to change democratic institutions\u201d and said he worried El Salvador is not ready or willing to \u201ccontribute productively to the conversation that we\u2019re going to have.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAs a plan B to attending the conference, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei traveled to Washington this week to speak about the bilateral relationship at the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation and \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/twitter.com\/DrGiammattei\/status\/1467917180431917058?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1467917180431917058%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.dw.com%2Fes%2Falejandro-giammattei-guatemala-es-aliado-de-eeuu-pese-a-su-gobierno%2Fa-60038458\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Eminimized\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E the non-invite to the Summit as a partisan slight. \u201cWe are the last strategic ally left for the U.S. in the region, \u003Cstrong\u003Eeven though some people in this administration don\u2019t understand it,\u201d\u003C\/strong\u003E Giammattei \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/twitter.com\/DrGiammattei\/status\/1468014098097000449\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Esaid\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn his Heritage Foundation speech, Giammattei emphasized his government\u2019s cooperation in fighting drug trafficking and granting extradition requests, as well as its \u003Cstrong\u003Esupport for Taiwan and relocation of its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem\u003C\/strong\u003E. He also declared that Guatemala will become in March the \u003Cstrong\u003E\u201cpro-life capital of Iberoamerica,\u201d\u003C\/strong\u003E another example of a Central American government \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202110\/centroamerica\/25804\/Does-God-Support-Corrupt-Leaders.htm\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Eappealing to conservative religious interests\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E while facing scrutiny for anti-democratic actions.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe Heritage Foundation used the visit as a political barb against the White House. \u201cThe Biden Administration is imposing a partisan and highly politicized agenda on Guatemala,\u201d \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.heritage.org\/americas\/event\/guatemalan-president-alejandro-giammattei-strengthening-relations-our-partners-the\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Ewrote the foundation\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E, \u201cdemonstrated with its \u003Cstrong\u003Efailed \u201croot causes\u201d strategy\u003C\/strong\u003E and its most recent decision to exclude Guatemala from the Summit for Democracy.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=1440&ImageHeight=380&ImageId=36365\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"photographer text_italic rule--ss_l tint-text--idle\"\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ERepublican senators bit their tongues last week when Congressional Democrats asked the Biden administration to go further against some countries in Central America. On Nov. 30, Sen. Bob Menendez, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/202112\/centroamerica\/25875\/Senador-Men%C3%A9ndez-%E2%80%9CNicaragua-y-El-Salvador-no-deber%C3%ADan-gozar-de-preferencia-comercial%E2%80%9D.htm\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Erequested\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E that Biden consider \u003Cstrong\u003Esuspending the participation of El Salvador and Nicaragua in the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)\u003C\/strong\u003E. He said it\u2019s a \u201cstrong action\u201d and that the Biden administration should \u201cthink about using all the possible tools.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ENicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/nicaraguainvestiga.com\/politica\/68519-murillo-vuelve-a-suplicar-por-el-fin-de-las-sanciones\/?fbclid=IwAR1d4LXR51btgv2JVNHc8jFzvIIgwQvnGCZ06TIrDfLegcJyjBfRq7Em_7I\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Ecriticized\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E the lack of invitation to the summit and asked the Biden administration to \u201crespect Nicaragua\u2019s participation in all international forums.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOne academic suggests a broader multilateral strategy in the region is needed. Biden \"should consider inviting rival parties \u2014 including incumbents, opposition blocs, civil society, and the private sector \u2014 to \u003Cstrong\u003Epursue a series of multilateral \u2018Democracy Accords,\u2019\u201d\u003C\/strong\u003E writes Lucas Perell\u00f3, of Marymount Manhattan College, \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202112\/columns\/25894\/Central-America-Needs-New-Democracy-Accords.htm\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Ein an opinion column for El Faro English\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThanks for your time. Please pass along our work, and \u003Cstrong\u003Econsider funding independent journalism in Central America\u003C\/strong\u003E at\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/elfaro.us19.list-manage.com\/track\/click?u=a822abdb775cca5db840e11e5&id=0c39ad61f2&e=3e101df639\"\u003E \u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Esupport.elfaro.net\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E"}