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US Sanctions El Salvador 5 But No Hondurans As Inner City Press Asked State's Chung of JOH

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Podcast
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Sept 20 – With Central America on the agenda of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken June 1-2 in Costa Rica, Inner City Press on May 27 asked Department of State Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Acting Assistant Secretary Julie J. Chung about the Administration's approach to Honduras.  

 Now during the UN General Assembly from which UN Sec-Gen Antonio Guterres has banned Inner City Press, with no actions by the US Mission to the UN, the US on September 20 announced sanctions of five from El Salvador and two from Guatemala - and NONE from Honduras. Why not? From the announcement:

"today we are adding seven perpetrators to the United States’ Undemocratic and Corrupt Actors list, under section 353 of the United States–Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act, which generally makes the perpetrators ineligible for visas and admission to the United States.  These designations respond to recent actions that undermined democracy and obstructed corruption investigations in El Salvador and Guatemala.  The list transmitted to Congress details the following attacks on democracy and on anti-corruption measures:  El Salvador  Elsy Dueñas De Aviles, Oscar Alberto López Jerez, Hector Nahun Martinez Garcia, Jose Angel Perez Chacon, and Luis Javier Suárez Magaña, current Magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, undermined democratic processes or institutions by accepting direct appointments to the Chamber by the Legislative Assembly, in a process that appears to have contravened the Salvadoran constitution.  The previous five Magistrates were abruptly removed without legitimate cause following the May 1 seating of the newly elected Legislative Assembly.  After being installed, the new Magistrates declared their installation by the Legislative Assembly to have been constitutional.  The Magistrates undermined democratic processes or institutions by approving a controversial interpretation of the Constitution authorizing re-election of the President despite an express prohibition in the Constitution forbidding consecutive terms of the Presidency.  Guatemala  Maria Consuelo Porras Argueta De Porres, current Attorney General of Guatemala, obstructed investigations into acts of corruption by interfering with criminal investigations.  Porras’ pattern of obstruction included ordering prosecutors in Guatemala’s Public Ministry (MP) to ignore cases based on political considerations and actively undermining investigations  carried out by the Special Prosecutor Against Impunity, including by firing its lead prosecutor, Juan Francisco Sandoval, and transferring and firing prosecutors who investigate corruption.  Angel Arnoldo Pineda Avila, current Secretary General of the MP, obstructed investigations into acts of corruption by interfering in anticorruption probes."

  The president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez, was repeatedly referred to by DOJ prosecutors as involved in narco-trafficking during the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York trials of his brother, Tony Hernandez (sentenced to life plus 30 years) and Geovanny Fuentes Ramirez.  

 Acting Assistance Secretary Chung told Inner City Press that those leaders who will not tackle corruption will not be U.S. partners. While Inner City Press said thanks for the answer, how will the Administration cordon off its aid from use by the JOH government, which also used Facebook to game elections in the country?  Podcast here.

From the US State Department transcript:

MODERATOR: Let’s go the line Matthew Russell Lee. 

QUESTION: Sure. Thanks a lot and thanks for taking the question. I had wanted to ask specifically about Honduras. There have been a series of cases in the Southern District of New York where the brother of the president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, his brother Tony was convicted of drug trafficking. And in the most recent trial, his name came up repeatedly as “CC-4,” seemingly involved in the trafficking.  So I’m wondering – I know there’s a general concern with corruption and countries being sort of involuntarily subject to drug trafficking, but what’s the State Department’s thought of how to ensure that that aid to Honduras isn’t used by the current government? Or what’s your thinking on this? Thanks a lot. 

MS CHUNG: Yes, well, we take any allegations of criminal activity very seriously. I won’t speak to the specifics of the DOJ case, but combating corruption and impunity, those are really at the center of the President’s priorities in the region and how to address the root causes of irregular migration. So we have said very clearly that any leader unwilling to tackle corruption will not be considered a close U.S. partner, and we take that very seriously. And so we want to have these conversations ongoing with, again, not just the governments but all stakeholders in the region. And we also want to use this opportunity in this multilateral format to see how countries can look for these regional challenges and come up with regional solutions together as well.

  The answer stands in contrast with the United Nations, which after under Antonio Guterres have propped up JOH when he stole the election the last time has refused all of Inner City Press' questions, even in writing, and continues to ban it from entering the UN, now for the 1060th day. Something must change. 

Here's the trip announcement: Ned Price, Department Spokesperson  Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will travel on June 1-2 to San José, Costa Rica, where he will engage with senior leaders from Central America, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic, as well as Costa Rican government officials and civil society. ...
Secretary Blinken will then participate in a meeting with senior leaders from member-states of the Central America Integration System (SICA), along with Mexico.  Together, they will advance a collaborative approach to addressing the root causes of migration, including improving democratic governance, security, and economic opportunity for the people of Central America.  He will also meet separately with several of his foreign counterparts to discuss joint efforts to address bilateral and regional issues. Watch this site.


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