The State Department Updates Corrupt and Undemocratic Actors List – Section 353
September 20, 2021
The Secretary of State announced the transmittal to Congress of an update to the report required by Section 353 of the United States States – Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act, known as the Corrupt and Undemocratic Actors List. The updated report includes the five magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice who undermined democratic processes or institutions: Óscar Alberto López Jerez, Elsy Dueñas Lovos, José Ángel Pérez Chacón, Luis Javier Suárez Magaña and Héctor Nahún Martínez.
The five magistrates are included for accepting direct appointments to the Chamber by the Legislative Assembly, in an unusual process in apparent contravention of the processes set out at Article 186 of the Constitution, which requires the selection of such Magistrates from a list of candidates drafted by the National Council of the Judiciary. 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 subsequently also 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.
“The actions by these five magistrates demonstrate a clear strategy to undermine judicial independence and remove a critical counterbalance to the executive branch,” said Chargé d’Affaires Jean Manes. “These actions damage the bilateral relationship the United States strives to have with the government of El Salvador.”
The List of Corrupt and Antidemocratic Actors is a tool, mandated by the U.S. Congress in December 2020, designed to provide immediate consequences for individuals who are currently engaged in corruption and acts that undermine democracy in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. The initial report was published on July 1 for the three countries and includes foreign persons who have been determined to have knowingly participated in actions that undermine democratic processes or institutions or who have been determined to have knowingly participated in significant acts of corruption. It is meant to serve as a deterrent.
Consistent with the requirements of Section 353, the foreign persons listed in this report are generally ineligible for visas and admission to the United States. Foreign persons listed in this report will have their visas immediately revoked and any other valid visa or entry documentation will be rescinded, unless an exception or national security waiver is granted. In accordance with Section 353(g), this report will be published in the Federal Register.
The Department will continue to investigate the individuals covered in the report and will consider all available tools to deter and disrupt corrupt and undemocratic activities in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The Department also continues to actively review additional credible information and allegations regarding corruption and will use all applicable authorities, as appropriate, to ensure that corrupt officials do not find haven in the United States.
Óscar Alberto López Jerez, Magistrado Presidente, Sala de lo Constitucional de la Corte Suprema de El Salvador.
Elsy Dueñas Lovos, Magistrada, Sala de lo Constitucional de la Corte Suprema de El Salvador.
José Ángel Pérez Chacón, Magistrado, Sala de lo Constitucional de la Corte Suprema de El Salvador.
Luis Javier Suárez Magaña, Magistrado, Sala de lo Constitucional de la Corte Suprema de El Salvador.
Héctor Nahún Martínez, Magistrado, Sala de lo Constitucional de la Corte Suprema de El Salvador.