El Salvador officials order arrest of second ex-president charged with embezzling public funds
jorono / Pixabay
El Salvador officials order arrest of second ex-president charged with embezzling public funds

El Salvador officials have ordered the arrest of former president Salvador Sánchez Cerén after he was charged with unlawfully receiving USD $530,000 as a bonus during his time as vice president. The Attorney General’s office initiated the legal process and asked international police to locate and extradite Sánchez Cerén so that he can face the charges against him.

Sánchez Cerén, who is now deemed a fugitive, served as vice president under former president Mauricio Funes between 2009 and 2014 before serving as president from 2014 to 2019. He also previously served as a commander of the former Salvadoran guerrilla and as a deputy in the Legislative Assembly.

Former president Mauricio Funes, who is also considered a fugitive, was accused of misappropriating public funds during his presidency and of embezzling over $350 million. In 2019, the Nicaraguan government granted Funes political asylum and citizenship.

The Prosecutor’s Office also charged 10 former officials with illicit enrichment and embezzlement, alleging that the 2009 to 2014 administration transferred $351 million from public funds, although the Legislative Assembly approved a budget of $80.8 million. Prosecutors claim to have abundant evidence including signed receipts, which they intend to offer at the official hearing on Tuesday, July 27.

Current El Salvador President Nayib Bukele expressed support for the criminal charges and noted that Sánchez Cerén left El Salvador in December 2020 and “never returned.”

The Minister of Popular Power for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela on Sunday accused the Salvadoran Attorney General of engaging in “lawfare” in an attempt to demobilize the organization and resistance of the people against neoliberalism. Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro extended solidarity to former President Salvador Sánchez Cerén and rejected the “judicial persecution against him.”