anti-corruption, Central America, CICIG, corruption, crime, drug trafficking, End Corruption in the Northern Triangle Act, foreign assistance, Global Magnitsky Act, Guatemala, Honduras, impunity, International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, J8 Jeeps, Jimmy Morales, judiciary, Morales, narco-state, Northern Triangle, sham list, State Department, Trump, US House
“We know, and every State Department expert knows, that the United States government has knowledge of many, many corrupt officials in Central America who were not included in the report. By willfully concealing the names of corrupt government officials in Central America, in defiance of Congress’ intent, the Trump administration is engaging in a cover-up.” (US Congresswoman Torres)
“Torres Statement on State Department List of Corrupt Central American Government Officials April 3, 2019 Press Release
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Norma J. Torres (D-CA) released the following statement after Congress received the list of corrupt government officials in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala required by Section 1287 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019.
The list, which was adopted from the Torres-authored End Corruption in the Northern Triangle Act, was to include elected or government officials who were known to have committed acts related to drug trafficking and corruption. However, the list provided to Congress by the U.S. Secretary of State only included officials who have already been convicted, sentenced, or subject to U.S. sanctions for such acts.
“This list is a sham. It is unbelievable that the State Department was 53 days late on this report and this is what they gave us. If Congress wanted a list of officials who were sentenced or sanctioned, we would have Googled it.
We know, and every State Department expert knows, that the United States government has knowledge of many, many corrupt officials in Central America who were not included in the report. By willfully concealing the names of corrupt government officials in Central America, in defiance of Congress’ intent, the Trump administration is engaging in a cover-up.
“This is not the first time this administration has been complicit in Central American corruption. After all, this is the same administration that gave Guatemala’s President the green light to kick out a U.S.-supported anti-corruption commission that was investigating him.
It is the same administration that looked the other way while the President of Honduras’ brother and associates allegedly engaged in drug trafficking.
And it’s the same administration that has cut off foreign assistance programs for the brave activists and investigative journalists who are fighting against corruption in their home countries. Because of this administration’s complicity, Honduras and Guatemala are well on their way to becoming narco-states.
“This cannot stand. I will do everything in my power to ensure the State Department comes clean with what it knows.”
Torres, the only Central American serving in Congress, is a member of the House Appropriations and Rules Committees.
In March, she introduced the Guatemala Rule of Law Accountability Act to authorize travel and financial sanctions against Guatemalan officials who have engaged in corruption, obstructed justice, misused U.S.-provided equipment, disobeyed Guatemalan Constitutional Court rulings, and interfered with the work of the U.S. government.
To view the list provided by the State Department, click here.
“Torres, McGovern, Cardin, Leahy Introduce Bicameral Bill to Impose Targeted Sanctions on Guatemalan Officials Who Undermine Justice
March 7, 2019 Press Release
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, U.S. Representatives Norma J. Torres (D-CA) and James P. McGovern (D-MA) and U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Guatemala Rule of Law Accountability Act to authorize Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act sanctions against Guatemalan officials who have engaged in corruption, obstructed justice, misused U.S.-provided equipment, disobeyed Guatemalan Constitutional Court rulings, and interfered with the work of the U.S. government. In Guatemala, the actions of a government facing corruption investigations have placed the country’s stability and democracy in jeopardy and have undermined U.S.-supported efforts to address the root cause of migration.
“Faced with allegations of corruption, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales has allied with criminal and corrupt actors who are intent on thwarting justice at any cost. He’s ordered the removal of a U.S.-funded anti-corruption commission, decimated the leadership of the National Civilian Police, attacked the independence of the judiciary, and shamelessly used U.S. provided J8 Jeeps to intimidate U.S. diplomatic personnel,” said Representative Torres. “Congress must stand up for the Guatemalan people and their long struggle to build a stable, prosperous democracy. Unless we act now, Guatemala is at risk of descending into lawlessness—and we’ll see the consequences at our southern border.”
“Guatemalan leaders—including President Jimmy Morales—ought to know that the international community is watching. We will not remain silent while they enrich themselves, undermine the rule of law, and go after human rights defenders,” said Representative McGovern. “The targeted sanctions included in this bill would make clear that the United States will not sit idly by while corrupt high-ranking government officials cheat the Guatemalan people of their prosperity and their future.”
“This bill affirms our support for anti-corruption initiatives, justice, and accountability in Guatemala,” said Senator Cardin, author of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. “Corruption exacerbates the insecurity, governance, and economic challenges that drive so many Guatemalans to leave their homes. This act upholds U.S. commitment to the rule of law, while ensuring a more efficient, appropriate use of U.S. assistance addressing the root causes of migration.”
“This bill is a direct response to flagrant actions by officials in Guatemala to subvert the rule of law,” said Senator Leahy. “Whether expelling the CICIG Commissioner, seeking to oust Constitutional Court magistrates, or threatening political candidates, corruption and abuse of power are driving this alarming, backward trend. This bill makes clear that public officials and their associates who engage in corrupt acts, and who work to undermine the independence of the judiciary, will pay a very real price.”
Specifically, the Guatemala Rule of Law Accountability Act would apply financial sanctions, including asset blocking and the denial of visas, to current or former corrupt Guatemalan officials. It would also ensure that the U.S. can claw back any security equipment that is misused by the government of Guatemala.
Torres and McGovern were joined in introducing the bill by original co-sponsors Representatives Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Deb Haaland (D-NM), Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), David Cicilline (D-RI), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Andy Levin (D-MI), Jim Himes (D-CT), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Don Beyer (D-VA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), and Steve Cohen (D-TN). The Senate companion is co-sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Chris Murphy (D-CT). The bill has been endorsed by the American Jewish World Service, the Guatemala Human Rights Commission, Freedom House, the Latin America Working Group, Oxfam America, and the Washington Office on Latin America.
National Security and Foreign Policy
National Security and Foreign Policy