Five of Salvadoran President’s allies accused of corruption: United States | Corruption News

The US State Department lists several politicians and officials in Guatamela, Honduras and El Salvador “credibly suspected” of being corrupt.

US State Department report on Central American officials “credibly alleged” corrupt includes five Salvadoran officials (PDF) with ties to President Nayib Bukele, six sitting Honduran lawmakers and two Guatemalan lawmakers, according to a published list (PDF) Tuesday by the office of US Representative Norma Torres.

The list emerged less than a week after the visit of US Special Envoy for Central America Ricardo Zuniga The Savior and met Bukele amid a push by US President Joe Biden’s administration to fight corruption and strengthen the rule of law in the region.

The United States has made strengthening democracy a pillar of its policy toward Central America, arguing that rampant corruption is one of the root causes of illegal immigration.

“We cannot expect the people of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to prosper in their homes when their elected officials are more focused on personal enrichment than on service to the public,” said Torres, a Californian Democrat who chairs the Central American Caucus, in a statement. Tuesday.

“This list is an important step, but it is only the first step towards empowering these officials.”

Bukele’s new New Ideas party swept the February parliamentary elections in a landslide, seizing control of the unicameral congress and immediately voting this month to remove the high-level anti-corruption prosecutor and several magistrates from the high court that had blocked the president’s agenda.

While Bukele remains extremely popular at home after decades of corrupt rule following the end of the country’s bloody civil war, his critics in the United States say that by concentrating power he is undermining already fragile institutions.

The most prominent official on the list is Bukele’s chief of staff Carolina Recinos, who has worked alongside the president since entering politics as mayor of a small town for the National Liberation Front Farabundo Marti created by leftist rebels after the end of the civil war. war. There were no details of Recinos’ alleged wrongdoing.

The most prominent official on the list is Bukele’s chief of staff, Carolina Recinos, who has worked alongside the president since entering politics. [File: Jose Cabezasthe/Reuters]

He is also named Rogelio Rivas, who was replaced last month as Minister of Security and Justice. The State Department said Rivas allegedly awarded his own construction company several non-competitive and unannounced contracts for the construction of police stations and other buildings that fell within its official capacity, then inflated the cost of materials.

Also included is lawmaker Guillermo Gallegos, founder of the GANA party that broke with El Salvador’s bipartisan system to support Bukele’s presidential race in 2019.

Two former FMLN lawmakers – Sigfrido Reyes and Jose Luis Merino, the latter former deputy foreign minister in the FMLN government that predated Bukele’s administration – are also included.

Bukele, who accused the United States of brutality, used irony to dismiss the report, a copy of which circulated on social media earlier Monday. He said he was shocked that El Salvador’s “friends”, after checking their records, couldn’t find a single case of corruption within the conservative ARENA party – one of his frequent targets.

“Maybe they think they’re all holy,” he wrote on Twitter. “That’s why they insist that we put them back in power.”

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