{"code":"25184","sect":"El Salvador","sect_slug":"el-salvador","hits":"2601","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202101\/el_salvador\/25184","link_edit":"","name":"\u201cA Leader Unready to Go after Corruption Won't be a U.S. Ally\u201d ","slug":"-ldquo-a-leader-unready-to-go-after-corruption-wont-be-a-u-s-ally-rdquo-","info":"","mtag":"Politics","noun":{"html":"Jos\u00e9 Luis Sanz \/ Washington","data":{"jose-luis-sanz-washington":{"sort":"","slug":"jose-luis-sanz-washington","path":"jose_luis_sanz_washington","name":"Jos\u00e9 Luis Sanz \/ Washington"}}},"view":"2601","pict":{"cms-image-000035219-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"35219","name":"cms-image-000035219.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000035219.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000035219.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000035219-jpg","text":"<p>Juan Sebasti\u00e1n Gonz\u00e1lez (derecha) camina junto al presidente Joe Biden. Gonz\u00e1lez ser\u00e1 el asesor de Biden\u00a0para el hemisferio occidental en el Consejo de Seguridad Nacional de Estados Unidos.\u00a0Foto de El Faro: Tomada del Twitter de Juan S. Gonz\u00e1lez.<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EJuan Sebasti\u00e1n Gonz\u00e1lez (derecha) camina junto al presidente Joe Biden. Gonz\u00e1lez ser\u00e1 el asesor de Biden\u00a0para el hemisferio occidental en el Consejo de Seguridad Nacional de Estados Unidos.\u00a0Foto de El Faro: Tomada del Twitter de Juan S. Gonz\u00e1lez.\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000035222-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"35222","name":"cms-image-000035222.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000035222.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000035222.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000035222-jpg","text":"<p>Juan Sebasti\u00e1n Gonz\u00e1lez, is advisor to President Joe Biden for the Western Hemisphere on the National Security Council. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador.<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EJuan Sebasti\u00e1n Gonz\u00e1lez, is advisor to President Joe Biden for the Western Hemisphere on the National Security Council. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador.\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000035224-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"35224","name":"cms-image-000035224.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000035224.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000035224.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000035224-jpg","text":"<p>Juan Sebasti\u00e1n Gonz\u00e1lez (right) is advisor to Biden for the Western Hemisphere on the U.S. National Security Council. Photo taken from the Twitter account of Juan S. Gonz\u00e1lez.<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EJuan Sebasti\u00e1n Gonz\u00e1lez (right) is advisor to Biden for the Western Hemisphere on the U.S. National Security Council. Photo taken from the Twitter account of Juan S. Gonz\u00e1lez.\u003C\/p\u003E"}},"pict_main__sort":35217,"date":{"live":"2021\/01\/29"},"data_post_dateLive_YY":"2021","data_post_dateLive_MM":"01","data_post_dateLive_DD":"29","text":"\u003Cp id=\"docs-internal-guid-1dd6a526-7fff-5e48-1fc7-6d7ab026f4cb\" 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=2000&ImageHeight=1333&ImageId=35222\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Juan Sebasti\u00e1n Gonz\u00e1lez, is advisor to President Joe Biden for the Western Hemisphere on the National Security Council. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador.\" \/\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\"\u003EJuan Sebasti\u00e1n Gonz\u00e1lez, is advisor to President Joe Biden for the Western Hemisphere on the National Security Council. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador.\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Ca href=\"\/es\/202101\/internacionales\/25187\/%E2%80%9CEl-l%C3%ADder-que-no-est%C3%A9-listo-para-combatir-la-corrupci%C3%B3n-no-ser%C3%A1-un-aliado-para-Estados-Unidos%E2%80%9D.htm\" target=\"_blank\"\u003ELeer en espa\u00f1ol\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EJoe Biden stepping into the White House as president has broken the pact formed between the United States and Central America during the Trump administration: U.S. silence about corruption and the abuse of power in the region in exchange for Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras collaborating with the White House\u2019s brutal anti-immigrant platform.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EJuan Gonz\u00e1lez is the National Security Council Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere and, therefore, lead advisor to the president on Latin American policy. In a \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/202101\/internacionales\/25187\/%E2%80%9CEl-l%C3%ADder-que-no-est%C3%A9-listo-para-combatir-la-corrupci%C3%B3n-no-ser%C3%A1-un-aliado-para-Estados-Unidos%E2%80%9D.htm\"\u003ESpanish-language interview\u003C\/a\u003E with El Faro, one of the first that any White House official has given to international media since the transition, Gonz\u00e1lez confirmed the change in course. Though his discussion about immigration revealed certain contradictions \u2014 he seemed to laud Guatemala\u2019s violent repression of a caravan of migrants that tried to enter from Honduras earlier this month \u2014 he also noted a new priority: \u201cWe have to return to the initiative that President Biden took in the White House as Vice President, which is to work with the countries in the region to resolve the issues of poverty, inequality, and insecurity, which is what pushes people to leave their homes and attempt the dangerous journey to the United States.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EGonz\u00e1lez knows Central America well. During the Obama administration he was Deputy Secretary for the Western Hemisphere in the State Department, and worked directly with Biden in his response to the unaccompanied minors crisis in 2014. In the interview, he confirmed that the fight against corruption will be a primary focus of the administration\u2019s policy toward the region. Announcing their intention of creating a \u201ctask force\u201d through which the U.S. Justice Department assists federal prosecutors in Central America \u2014 who he says often work alone \u2014 in their investigations into corruption and organized crime, he also warned that governments will not be their only partners in the region: \u201cIn these countries there are very active civil societies that are demanding more from their governments, which is the right thing to do.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EHe also confirmed \u2014 as ex-ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte\u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202101\/columnas\/25157\/A-New-Alliance-for-Salvadoran-Democracy.htm\" target=\"_blank\"\u003E stated in a column published by El Faro on January 20\u003C\/a\u003E, and as a tweet from the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador insinuated \u2014 that the Biden administration backs the initiative proposed to El Salvador\u2019s National Assembly by a group of NGOs to expand the powers of the CICIES and give it more independence from the Bukele administration.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWhen asked directly for the opinion the Biden administration has for the Salvadoran President, Gonz\u00e1lez noted that there were \u201cdifferences\u201d and \u201cconcerns,\u201d and reiterated the necessity that regional governments demonstrate a commitment to fighting corruption. When asked about the Nicaraguan regime, he was much more forthright: \u201cThe actions taken by the Ortega administration against their own people\u2026 possibly constitute crimes against humanity.\u201d\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=35224\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Juan Sebasti\u00e1n Gonz\u00e1lez (right) is advisor to Biden for the Western Hemisphere on the U.S. National Security Council. Photo taken from the Twitter account of Juan S. Gonz\u00e1lez.\" \/\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\"\u003EJuan Sebasti\u00e1n Gonz\u00e1lez (right) is advisor to Biden for the Western Hemisphere on the U.S. National Security Council. Photo taken from the Twitter account of Juan S. Gonz\u00e1lez.\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003E\u003Cbr \/\u003E\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EThe pandemic, the economic crisis and state of politics in the United States, as well the difficult legacy of Trump\u2019s foreign policy, are all going to limit the scope of action that the Biden administration can take. What will be your priorities for Latin America?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe pandemic isn\u2019t going to limit the administration\u2019s mission in the region. Our weakness in controlling the pandemic in the United States requires cooperation with our allies in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada. We\u2019re already engaging in active dialogue. You\u2019ll note that during the transition, [National Security Advisor to President Biden] Jake Sullivan and ambassador Roberta Jacobson had conversations with the Mexican government about migration. They also talked about Covid. And right now we\u2019re having a similar dialogue with the Canadian government.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAnd on the topic of irregular migration to the United States, there are implications for Covid. It\u2019s something that we need to take on together. The state of the border, our ability to manage the border has been damaged and inhibited by the previous administration\u2019s dismantling of the legal migration system. The clearest message that I could give to people who are thinking of migrating is: don\u2019t do it. The immigration reforms President Biden is proposing aren\u2019t going to affect anybody who wasn\u2019t already present in the United States before January 1. Not only that, but they would be taking a very dangerous journey and putting themselves and their families at risk. And they are going to arrive at a border where Covid is a very serious danger. And they\u2019re not going to be able to enter the United States and be processed.\u00a0\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EI need to recognize here the work that President Giammattei has done in managing the migration flows when the caravans started out. Unfortunately, the Honduran government, for the moment, their actions so far have been disappointing.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn reality, we have to return to the initiative that President Biden took in the White House as Vice President, which is to work with the countries in the region to resolve the issues of poverty, inequality, and insecurity, which is what pushes people to leave their homes and attempt the dangerous journey to the United States.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EPresident Biden himself has told us that his intention is to be very personally involved in this issue, because for him migration isn\u2019t just about dignity, but is a very important political issue for the United States.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWe will focus on a commitment to work against corruption, because whether it\u2019s poverty, inequality, lack of representation, lack of opportunity, many of these issues begin with endemic corruption that we see in the northern triangle, as well as elsewhere in Latin America. And we need to admit that in the United States we have our own problems. So we have learned that we need to approach these issues with humility and in a spirit of collaboration.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003ETo implement the policies that you list, you need counterparts. How can you fight corruption with countries that have structural systems of corruption?\u00a0\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe allies for the United States aren\u2019t only governments. The President has been very clear that he has committed $4 billion dollars for the four-year term. It\u2019s something that isn\u2019t going to have any impact without the political will of the governments to take actions that may be counter to their political interests, but for the good of their countries and against corruption. If they\u2019re ready to take this on in a serious way, they will have an ally in Joe Biden.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBut the allies of the United States aren\u2019t just foreign governments. They\u2019re also civil society organizations. And in these countries there are very active civil societies that are demanding more from their governments, which is the right thing to do. We also have the private sector. The commitment of the United States is a fraction of what the private sector can invest. And we also have the international community, which has the expectation that these governments take these steps.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EI\u2019ll repeat, all of this begins with corruption, with respect for institutions, resolving disputes through democratic and transparent processes. These are the ingredients of a robust democracy that responds to the needs of its people, and it\u2019s what, as an administration, we\u2019re trying to implement in our own country after four years of the Trump administration ignoring corruption in the United States and in the region. It\u2019s an issue we\u2019re taking on not only here, but in terms of foreign policy.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EPresident Biden\u2019s plan for Central America includes the creation of a regional commision to fight against corruption. What type of a commision do you have in mind? What power would it be invested with?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe CICIG [International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala] has left Guatemala. The MACCIH [Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras] left Honduras. And the CICIES [International Commission against Impunity in El Salvador] that\u2019s working in El Salvador, I don\u2019t know how effective it\u2019s been. To return to national commissions is something that takes a long time and we need to take action now.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWe recognize that there are very active prosecutor\u2019s offices in many of these countries. There\u2019s a very active Attorney General in El Salvador, as well as in Honduras, but for these regional prosecutors, including in Colombia and Mexico, the challenge for them to put together cases and do their work is that they\u2019re on their own. So we hope to find a way to give them support from the U.S. Justice Department as well as with other governments, and to put together a task force, a commision to work together to investigate cases and to give them the tools, such as the\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.washingtonpost.com\/news\/the-fix\/wp\/2017\/07\/14\/the-magnitsky-act-explained\/\"\u003E Magnitsky Act\u003C\/a\u003E, that the United States has to go after criminal groups, after money launderers, by taking away visas, implementing sanctions. All the tools that the U.S. and international partners have to go after corruption, which is a scourge impacting the potential of countries like El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EDonald Trump seemed very comfortable with the Bukele administration in El Salvador. What opinion does the Biden administration have of Nayib Bukele?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWell, we are willing to dialogue with any government that has been democratically elected, but we are going to have our differences with Bukele\u2019s government. And we\u2019re going to voice worries in a respectful and well-meaning manner. But I\u2019ll repeat: a leader unready to go after corruption won't be a U.S. ally.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EThis week the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador made a statement in support of strengthening the CICIES. Were they referring to the civil society initiative to give more independence to CICIES?\u00a0\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EThat\u2019s right. And we aren\u2019t here to prescribe solutions. I think we are going to have to dialogue with civil society, with our embassy, with the Department of State leading our diplomatic efforts to see how we can work as a community with governments, civil society, and the private sector for the good of the countries. But I\u2019ll repeat, it all begins and ends with combating corruption and respect for institutions.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EWould the\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/foreignaffairs.house.gov\/2020\/12\/engel-u-s-northern-triangle-enhanced-engagement-act-passes-congress\"\u003E Engel List\u003C\/a\u003E include Central American officials currently in office? For example, the President of Honduras is right now accused by a prosecutor in New York for allegedly receiving bribes from Chapo Guzm\u00e1n. Could he be put on the Engel List, and how would that affect bilateral relations with Honduras?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EI can\u2019t say exactly what we\u2019re going to do, but I can say that we\u2019re going to use all the tools that we have in the fight against corruption, and in support of democratic institutions in the region, which is the base of the consensus that we have in this hemisphere.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EIn the case of Nicaragua, do you think the United States can play a productive role in ending the democratic crisis?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ENicaragua is very worrying. The actions taken by the Ortega administration against their own people, using snipers to target peaceful protesters, possibly constitute crimes against humanity. Here the major problem that Nicaragua has, since Ortega reassumed the presidency in 2006, is that he changed the rules of the game so that he remains perpetually in power. The U.S. focus will be ensuring fair and transparent elections. What we have seen is that Ortega is manipulating the system again to his own favor. It\u2019s something that has been overlooked for too long. The previous administration focused on Venezuela and Cuba, and Nicaragua was basically forgotten. It\u2019s very worrying, and it will be a focus for this administration.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E*Translated by John Washington\u003C\/p\u003E"}