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U.S. declassifies ex-Honduran president's inclusion on entry ban list

U.S. declassifies ex-Honduran president's inclusion on entry ban list
State Department said Monday that it barred Hondura's former President Juan Orlando Hernandez entry to the United States in July. Pool File Photo by Eduardo Munoz/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 7 (UPI) -- The Biden administration last year quietly added former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez to a list barring entry to the United States of dozens of current and former Central American officials accused of committing corruption, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday.

In a statement, Blinken said Hernandez was added to the U.S. Corrupt and Undemocratic Actors list on July 1, over credible media reports accusing the former president of engaging in significant corruption and narco-trafficking, while using the illicit gains to fund political campaigns.

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Blinken also points to sworn testimony given in U.S. Federal criminal proceedings as proof that drug-trafficking funds contributed to his campaign.

In March 2020, prosecutors accused Hernandez of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes in an indictment charging Geovanny Daniel Fuentes, a man they say conspired with Honduran politicians and police to operate a cocaine lab and distribute tons of narcotics into the United States via maritime routes.

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On July 1, the State Department published a list naming 55 officials from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras denying visas and admission to the United States over accusations of acts of corruption as the Biden administration was taking aim at causes of irregular migration from Central America.

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Blinken said they were declassifying Hernandez's inclusion on the list as part of the United States' fight against corruption.

"The United States' commitment to fighting corruption and promoting democracy, rule of law and accountability in support of the people of Central America is ironclad," he said.

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The declassification of Hernandez's inclusion on the list follows Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., sending a letter last week as chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee to Blinken, calling for Hernandez's visa revoked and for him to be sanctioned.

"I commend [Blinken] for revoking Hondura's ex-President Hernandez's visa, as I urged last week," Menendez tweeted. "This is a powerful signal of the Biden admin's support for the rule of law & affirms that we will hold any official involved in drug trafficking to account."

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