{"code":"26278","sect":"Central America","sect_slug":"central-america","hits":"1757","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202207\/centroamerica\/26278","link_edit":"","name":"US Shows Its Teeth on Engel List","slug":"us-shows-its-teeth-on-engel-list","info":"Central America, in Brief: A leaked draft of the \u201cEngel List\u201d adds five-dozen names to the U.S. State Department's corruption map. The presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras won\u2019t be happy: Now banned from U.S. soil are five more of Bukele\u2019s closest confidants, businessmen and former corrupt officials linked to Giammattei, an advisor to Xiomara Castro and two of her party\u2019s top legislators, and 23 jailers of Nicaragua\u2019s political prisoners. Subscribe to our newsletter","mtag":"Newsletter","noun":{"html":"\u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/rgressier'\u003E Roman Gressier\u003C\/span\u003E y \u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/jlsanz'\u003E Jos\u00e9 Luis Sanz\u003C\/span\u003E","data":{"roman-gressier":{"sort":"rgressier","slug":"roman-gressier","path":"roman_gressier","name":"Roman Gressier","edge":"0","init":"0"},"jose-luis-sanz":{"sort":"jlsanz","slug":"jose-luis-sanz","path":"jose_luis_sanz","name":"Jos\u00e9 Luis Sanz","edge":"1","init":"0"}}},"view":"1757","pict":{"cms-image-000037745-jpg":{"feat":"1","sort":"37745","name":"cms-image-000037745.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037745.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037745.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000037745-jpg","text":"<p>La presidenta de Honduras, Xiomara Castro (izquierda), y la vicepresidenta de EE. UU., Kamala Harris (derecha), llegan para una reuni\u00f3n bilateral en el palacio presidencial en Tegucigalpa, Honduras, el 27 de enero de 2022. Foto de El Faro: Erin Schaff \/ POOL \/ AFP.<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003ELa presidenta de Honduras, Xiomara Castro (izquierda), y la vicepresidenta de EE. UU., Kamala Harris (derecha), llegan para una reuni\u00f3n bilateral en el palacio presidencial en Tegucigalpa, Honduras, el 27 de enero de 2022. Foto de El Faro: Erin Schaff \/ POOL \/ AFP.\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000036924-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"36924","name":"cms-image-000036924.JPG","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036924.JPG","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036924.JPG","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000036924-jpg","text":"<p>\"Do not come,\" Vice President Kamala Harris told prospective Central American migrants contemplating traveling without papers to the United States. Harris traveled to Guatemala in June 2021 to discuss migration, foreign investment, and other bilateral priorities with the administration of Alejandro Giammattei. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003E\"Do not come,\" Vice President Kamala Harris told prospective Central American migrants contemplating traveling without papers to the United States. Harris traveled to Guatemala in June 2021 to discuss migration, foreign investment, and other bilateral priorities with the administration of Alejandro Giammattei. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000037212-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"37212","name":"cms-image-000037212.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037212.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000037212.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000037212-jpg","text":"<p>U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks with Honduran President Xiomara Castro during their bilateral meeting in the Presidential Palace in Tegucigalpa on Jan. 27, 2022. Photo: Erin Schaff\/POOL\/AFP<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EU.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks with Honduran President Xiomara Castro during their bilateral meeting in the Presidential Palace in Tegucigalpa on Jan. 27, 2022. Photo: Erin Schaff\/POOL\/AFP\u003C\/p\u003E"}},"pict_main__sort":37745,"date":{"live":"2022\/07\/18"},"data_post_dateLive_YY":"2022","data_post_dateLive_MM":"07","data_post_dateLive_DD":"18","text":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EA leaked draft of the new additions to the U.S. State Department\u2019s Engel List dealt a gut punch to five of Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele\u2019s closest confidants, most notably Treasury Minister Alejandro Zelaya, the head of \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202207\/el_salvador\/26268\/El-Salvador-Government-Still-Floats-Possibility-of-IMF-Deal.htm\"\u003Eefforts to avoid financial default\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EZelaya can \u003Cstrong\u003Eno longer set foot in Washington, D.C., home of the IMF\u003C\/strong\u003E, or in New York, the finance capital. Nor can Bukele\u2019s press secretary, legal advisor, or his party\u2019s top legislator. They join four senior Bukele officials already on the list, including his chief of cabinet and one of his gang negotiators, the director of prisons.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EU.S. government sources confirmed the draft\u2019s authenticity to El Faro. The official list was sent to Congress Monday and should be made public this week. \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/twitter.com\/NormaJTorres\/status\/1549056314042720260?s=20&t=cDYTjctm6jbFsBYqO4L4-Q\"\u003ERep. Norma Torres\u003C\/a\u003E (D-Calif.), a designer of the bill requiring the Engel List, said this morning she was proud of the State Department for these expanded sanctions.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe U.S. first published the list in June 2021. Relations with Central America have since strained to the point that the heads of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras refused to attend President Joe Biden\u2019s Americas Summit a month ago and, in response to White House criticism of corruption and authoritarianism, \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202206\/centroamerica\/26225\/Central-America-Talks-Back-to-Biden.htm\"\u003Edemanded respect for sovereignty\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EState Department and White House sources expressed for months a desire to \u201cavoid nuclear conflict\u201d with the tempestuous Bukele, but the list reads as a rebuttal. He \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/twitter.com\/nayibbukele\/status\/1548063754838896640?s=20&t=POXgdPBdzVnx9q08-dxsGg\"\u003Eresponded\u003C\/a\u003E on Friday: \u201cUNITED FRUIT COMPANY.\u201d It\u2019s not the first time that he has claimed foreign interference; in a December speech he baselessly asserted that the opposition was \u201c\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.efe.com\/efe\/america\/politica\/el-presidente-bukele-dice-que-estan-pidiendo-un-golpe-de-estado-en-salvador\/20000035-4707324\"\u003Eplanning a coup d\u2019\u00e9tat\u003C\/a\u003E\u201d with the diplomatic corps, NGOs, and independent media.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThat\u2019s coming from a president who ordered his party\u2019s legislators in May 2021 to illegally remove the Constitutional Court judges and attorney general. The move landed then-legal advisor Javier Argueta on the Engel List. The magistrates imposed by Bukele later ruled, despite constitutional prohibitions, that he can run for reelection in 2024.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ENuevas Ideas legislative bloc chief Christian Guevara was also sanctioned, for the gag law approved in April to \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202204\/el_salvador\/26120\/Gag-Order-for-Journalism-on-Gangs.htm\"\u003Ecriminalize journalism about gangs\u003C\/a\u003E with up to 15 years in prison. \u201cIt\u2019s an honor to be [on the list] for doing what\u2019s right for our country,\u201d he retorted on Twitter.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EHe\u2019s not alone in wearing the Engel List as a badge of honor. The Twitter bio of the head of \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202205\/centroamerica\/26172\/Guatemalan-Judge-under-Threat-after-Ordering-Trial-in-1980s-%E2%80%9CDeath-Squad-Dossier%E2%80%9D-Case.htm\"\u003EGuatemala\u2019s Foundation Against Terrorism\u003C\/a\u003E (FCT), a group impeding trials for corruption and human rights violations, reads: \u201cIncluded in the Engel List for defending our veterans.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003ETargeting private sector\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe first edition of the Engel List carefully avoided Giammattei\u2019s circle at a time when the White House saw him as their main ally in the region. But the version 2.0 of the list includes names showing that \u003Cstrong\u003Ereports of presidential corruption have an ear in Washington\u003C\/strong\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EChief among them is Jos\u00e9 Luis Benito, infrastructure minister from 2018 to 2020, for allegedly taking bribes from a pay-to-play ring of construction firms. You may recall \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202202\/centroamerica\/26008\/Witness-Accuses-Guatemalan-President-of-Funding-Campaign-with-Construction-Bribes.htm\"\u003EEl Faro\u2019s February revelation\u003C\/a\u003E that, in exchange for directing $2.6 million in illicit campaign funds, Giammattei promised to keep Benito in his post after his election.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAlso on the list is the head of construction company Aspetro, the company is \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/elperiodico.com.gt\/noticias\/investigacion\/2022\/03\/28\/constructor-allegado-al-presidente-obtiene-contrato-de-q196-6-millones\/\"\u003Eone of the most favored\u003C\/a\u003E with public contracts by Giammattei\u2019s administration. The sanctions of five business people accused of bribery and disrupting U.S. commercial interests are the first signal that Biden has included the private sector in his design theory of corruption driving an ongoing \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202206\/centroamerica\/26216\/New-Targets-of-Attorney-General%E2%80%99s-Lawfare-against-Guatemalan-Justice.htm\"\u003Ecrackdown against independent Guatemalan justice system actors\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWhen \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202109\/centroamerica\/25759\/Who-Controls-Justice-in-Central-America.htm\"\u003EAG Consuelo Porras\u003C\/a\u003E was sanctioned in September, accused of obstructing Justice, Giammattei called it a \u201cviolation of her human rights.\u201d Top prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche, a key ally to her, has now landed on the list. So has former President of Congress Sof\u00eda Hern\u00e1ndez, for her family ties to drug traffickers, Los Huistas. We told you about her just one week ago, in a report on \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202207\/centroamerica\/26255\/The-Guatemalan-Link-between-Jalisco-New-Generation-Cartel-and-FARC-Dissidents.htm\"\u003EJalisco New Generation Cartel activity in Guatemala\u003C\/a\u003E.\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=2000&ImageHeight=1333&ImageId=36924\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"\"Do not come,\" Vice President Kamala Harris told prospective Central American migrants contemplating traveling without papers to the United States. Harris traveled to Guatemala in June 2021 to discuss migration, foreign investment, and other bilateral priorities with the administration of Alejandro Giammattei. 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\"\u003E\"Do not come,\" Vice President Kamala Harris told prospective Central American migrants contemplating traveling without papers to the United States. Harris traveled to Guatemala in June 2021 to discuss migration, foreign investment, and other bilateral priorities with the administration of Alejandro Giammattei. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\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\"\u003EBiden\u2019s changing \u003Cstrong\u003EGuatemala sanctions strategy may not have a deep impact\u003C\/strong\u003E given that Porras\u2019 inclusion didn\u2019t prevent the president from picking her for a second term in May, with support from the Guatemalan private sector and U.S. Republicans.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cThey say the lists don\u2019t affect them or matter, and maybe that\u2019s true for some of those sanctioned in Guatemala,\u201d a source in the Biden administration told El Faro English. \u201cBut we know that in El Salvador the list has an impact, and a big one.\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe source is referring to \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202201\/el_salvador\/25959\/Cracks-in-the-Nuevas-Ideas-Legislative-Bloc.htm\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Edivisions created by the fear of sanctions\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E among ruling-party legislators who U.S. officials deem responsible for measures the international community sees as deeply antidemocratic, like the \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202111\/el_salvador\/0000025837-bukele-to-control-ngos-and-media-funding\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Eproposed Nicaragua-style Foreign Agents Law\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EXiomara Castro\u2019s dilemma\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn Honduras, the sanctions didn\u2019t shy away from power, either. A standout was Enrique Flores Lanza, ex-president Manuel Zelaya\u2019s minister of the presidency. Now an advisor to President Xiomara Castro, Zelaya\u2019s wife, he\u2019s accused of siphoning $2 million from the central bank in relation to Zelaya\u2019s desire for a 2009 referendum justifying his reelection.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAfter spending eight years in Nicaragua to avoid prosecution for this case, he returned in March when Castro\u2019s party, Libre, decreed a controversial amnesty to \u003Cstrong\u003Eshield \u003C\/strong\u003E\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/apnews.com\/article\/noticias-027c36cf57473858a69e01d7ea5586f2\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Eformer Zelaya officials\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003E from any kind of prosecution\u003C\/strong\u003E \u2014including for corruption cases\u2014 under the argument of ending political persecution that began after the 2009 coup.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe list also named two vice presidents of Congress with Libre and Zelaya\u2019s former labor minister, health secretary, and head of the state electric company. It\u2019s unclear whether Castro will permit local investigators or an eventual International Commission against Impunity (CICIH), still to be created, to look into Zelaya\u2019s administration, like the Los Cachiros cartel\u2019s under-oath assertion in Brooklyn court that \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/mailchi.mp\/elfaro.net\/el-faro-english-us-prosecutors-signal-honduran-narco-state-6170591?e=3e101df639\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Ehe took money from them\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E.\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=2000&ImageHeight=1333&ImageId=37212\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks with Honduran President Xiomara Castro during their bilateral meeting in the Presidential Palace in Tegucigalpa on Jan. 27, 2022. Photo: Erin Schaff\/POOL\/AFP\" \/\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\"\u003EU.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks with Honduran President Xiomara Castro during their bilateral meeting in the Presidential Palace in Tegucigalpa on Jan. 27, 2022. Photo: Erin Schaff\/POOL\/AFP\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\"\u003EThe sanctions also touched businessman David Castillo, sentenced a month ago as the intellectual author of the murder of world-renowned Lenca land activist Berta C\u00e1ceres.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn Nicaragua, now included in the Engel List per the Renacer Act, the department named 10 prosecutors and 13 judges involved in\u003Cstrong\u003E \u003C\/strong\u003Ea wave of judicial persecution that imprisoned dozens of opposition leaders,\u003Cstrong\u003E \u003C\/strong\u003E\u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202201\/centroamerica\/25930\/Ortega-Calls-for-Clean-Slate-despite-Dozens-of-Political-Prisoners.htm\"\u003E\u003Cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003Epaving the way for Ortega and Murillo\u2019s reelection\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe Engel List 2.0 draws a bleak map of possible partners for a Biden administration claiming corruption is \u003Cstrong\u003Ea core national security issue and a root cause of migration\u003C\/strong\u003E. Without cooperation from governments, can sanctions carry the weight of U.S. regional policy?\u003C\/p\u003E"}