The United States announced Tuesday that it had barred former Honduran president Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo from entering the country, signaling him to receive bribes from drug traffickers in exchange for political favors.
Lobo, who ruled Honduras between 2010 and 2014, and his wife Rosa Elena Bonilla Ávila, are ineligible to enter the United States “for involvement in significant corruption,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
“While he was in office, President Lobo accepted bribes from the drug trafficking organization Los Cachiros in exchange for political favors,” the head of US diplomacy said in a statement.
“As first lady, Rosa Lobo committed important acts of corruption through fraud and the misappropriation of public funds for her personal benefit,” he added.
Blinken said that although these acts “undermined the stability of the democratic institutions of Honduras,” the former Honduran president has not yet been convicted, and the former first lady has been released from prison and awaits a new trial.
Former President Lobo was repeatedly mentioned as receiving bribes and having ties to drug trafficking, which he has categorically rejected.
The former first lady, meanwhile, was sentenced in September 2019 to 58 years in prison for embezzlement and fraud, but in March 2020 a Honduran court annulled the ruling pointing out errors in the process and ordered a repeat of her trial.
The prosecution had accused her of depositing about $ 500,000 of public funds from the first lady’s office into her personal account, hours before Lobo handed over the presidency.
Due to Tuesday’s appointments, the direct relatives of the former first Honduran couple, which include their son, Fabio Porfirio; his daughter, Ambar Naydee; and his minor son, whose name was not provided, according to the statement.
Fabio Porfirio Lobo was already sentenced in 2017 in New York to 24 years in prison after pleading guilty to trafficking 1.4 tons of cocaine to the United States.
As Secretary of State, Blinken has the power to prevent foreign government representatives and their immediate family members from entering the country if it considers that they were directly or indirectly involved in acts of corruption.
“These designations reaffirm the United States’ commitment to combat corruption and disregard for the rule of law that hinders progress in Honduras,” he said.
The Joe Biden government considers that corruption is a factor that drives irregular migration to the United States, a phenomenon that has worsened in recent months with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Central Americans to the southern border of the country.
The State Department had already included former President Lobo and his wife in a list of “corrupt and undemocratic” Central American officials and former officials, known as the Engel List and released earlier this month.
Then, Lobo harshly questioned the legitimacy of the list, targeting the current Honduran president, Juan Orlando Hernández, who has been implicated in a court in New York for cocaine trafficking to the United States along with his brother Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández, who was convicted. in March to life imprisonment by the American justice.
What do we all know? That the greatest corrupt person in Honduras and that there has been in the history of this country is called Juan Orlando Hernández and he is not on the list. What legitimacy can that list have? ”Lobo told Radio América on July 2.
“That they publish what they want, I know that I have not received money for favors (…) It is totally false,” he said.
With information from .