US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced on Monday actions against seven Central American officials who are accused of “undermining democracy” and “obstructing investigations into acts of corruption” in El Salvador and Guatemala.
Blinken affirmed that the US “is committed to supporting the people of northern Central America by fortifying democracy, rule of law, and accountability, which are the keys to a brighter future.” He further stated that in line with this principle, the Department of State added the seven alleged perpetrators to the § 353 of the US Undemocratic and Corrupt Actors list. Consequently, they are ineligible for visas and cannot legally enter the US.
The accused officials include five El Salvador Supreme Court justices and Guatemala Attorney General Maria Porras. Blinken said that the Salvadoran justices undermined democratic processes when they accepted direct appointments and interpreted the El Salvador Constitution as “authorizing re-election of the President despite an express prohibition in the Constitution forbidding consecutive terms of the Presidency.” Blinken also said that Guatemala Attorney General Porras interfered with criminal investigations by ordering prosecutors to ignore politically inconvenient cases, firing lead prosecutors, and firing corruption investigators.
El Salvador President Nayib Bukele tweeted his response to the accusations, claiming that the US had political motives for adding El Salvor officials to the list, and he noted that the corruption list did not include any Honduran officials. Bukele thought this omission was bizarre.
Still, Blinken said the US will continue promoting accountability for attacks on democracy in Central America and partnering with government officials who combat corruption.