Martha Carolina Recinos, Chief of Staff of the President of El Salvador Nayib Bukele, is once again under pressure from the Joe Biden Administration. Recinos de Bernal was already prohibited from entering the United States because his name was on the black list of high corrupt public officials published by the United States Department of State. From today, Bukele’s adviser suffers new sanctions under the accusation of having directed “a multimillion-dollar corruption scheme in multiple ministries.”
As reported by the Treasury Department on Thursday, this scheme “involves suspicious acquisitions in the construction of a hospital, as well as ordering various government ministers to authorize suspicious purchases related to the pandemic” in El Salvador. Those acquisitions would be “millions of dollars” in surgical masks and hospital supplies – such as gowns for medical personnel – from companies “with no apparent ties” to the health industry, according to the Treasury statement.
On the International Day Against Corruption, the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) punishes the Chief of Staff by freezing any assets they may have in the United States and prohibits any transaction through the US financial system. The sanctions also coincide with President Biden’s Summit for Democracy, which is held virtually this Thursday and Friday, with the participation of representatives from 100 countries, and focuses on the fight against corruption.
This new measure against Rencinos comes a day after the United States announced sanctions against two high-ranking officials of the Bukele government whom it accuses of corruption for their alleged involvement in the covert negotiations with leaders of the Salvadoran gangs Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13 ) and Barrio 18. The Department of the Treasury included Osiris Luna Meza, vice minister of Justice and general director of prisons, and Carlos Amílcar Marroquín Chica, director of Reconstruction of the Social Fabric of the Presidency of El Salvador on its blacklist.
The information from the Treasury highlights that the corruption exercised by Recinos consisted of the food baskets bought by the Government to alleviate the effects of the coronavirus on the population “were diverted for the use of specific candidates” of the ruling Salvadoran party, New Ideas , to gain support in the municipal and legislative elections in February 2021. El Salvador is one of the eight countries in the Americas not invited to the summit, along with Bolivia, Cuba, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guatemala.
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