Torres Introduces Guatemala Sanctions Legislation to Combat Corruption and Money Laundering

December 13, 2018
Press Release

The Guatemala Rule of Law Accountability Act builds on Torres legislation to require the State Department to provide Congress with a list of corrupt officials in the Northern Triangle that was signed into law in August


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Representative Norma J. Torres (D-CA) introduced the Guatemala Rule of Law Accountability Act, to require the U.S. President to impose sanctions on individuals who have undermined the rule of law in Guatemala. The sanctions would include asset blocking and the denial of visas.


“After decades of civil war, the Guatemalan people have fought hard and sacrificed a great deal to establish the rule of law. Progress has been slow, and, recently, it has been threatened by a small group of individuals, whose only priority is protecting themselves from prosecution. These bad actors have dismantled the leadership of the National Civilian Police, disobeyed the rulings of the constitutional court, sought to remove a U.S.-funded anti-corruption commission, and even used U.S.-provided Jeeps to intimidate U.S. Embassy and United Nations personnel.


“Sadly, the Trump Administration’s response to these provocations has been to put its head in the sand. That is a grave mistake. Strengthening the rule of law is the key to a more prosperous and secure Guatemala, where young people can see a future for themselves. Allowing the rule of law to disintegrate is a recipe for instability and a growing humanitarian crisis at our borders.


“If the Administration refuses to act, Congress must. That’s why I have introduced the Guatemala Rule of Law Accountability Act. This bill will impose financial and travel sanctions on individuals who have undermined Guatemala’s justice system. It will also ensure that any future defense equipment transferred to Guatemala can be reclaimed by the United States government if it is misused. Congress must ensure there are consequences for those who have trampled the rule of law in Guatemala, and we must support those Guatemalans who are working to build a brighter future for the next generation.”


Torres is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Rules Committee. Earlier this year, she introduced H.R. 5501, the End Corruption in the Northern Triangle Act. A portion of that bill requires the Secretary of State to send Congress a list of corrupt officials in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala; the list requirement was adopted as Section 1287 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, which President Trump signed into law on August 13, 2018.


Last year, the bipartisan resolution she introduced with Rep. John R. Moolenaar (R-MI) to reaffirm the United States Congress’s commitment to fighting corruption in Central America was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives. The resolution states that efforts to fight corruption must remain at the center of U.S. policy in Central America, that the Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH) and CICIG are important contributions to these efforts, and that the governments of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador should cooperate with MACCIH and CICIG and the Attorneys General of the region.