US designates 2 Salvadorans for helping China, corruption

·2 min read

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — The U.S. government designated two Salvadoran officials under the “corrupt and undemocratic actors” report Friday for allegedly helping China and profiting from their decisions.

The U.S. Embassy in El Salvador said former mayor Ezequiel Milla allegedly abused his authority to sell the Caribbean island of Perico to "agents of the People’s Republic of China in exchange for personal benefit.”

The other official, Luis Wellman Carpio, is a current magistrate of the country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal. Wellman Carpio allegedly allowed “Chinese malign influence” during El Salvador’s February midterm elections, and improperly granted a Chinese company contracts for much of the electoral material and vote tabulation.

Both Milla, the former mayor of the city of La Union, and Wellman Carpio are linked to the conservative Arena party.

Jean Manes, the Chargé d’ affaires at the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador, downplayed the international implications, arguing it was a simple case of corruption.

"That is not the point," Manes said. “The point is that is someone is receiving money in bribes, or in some other way abusing their government position, that person is receiving illicit funds."

But she did acknowledge the U.S. is concerned by Chinese actions in the region.

“We have seen a number of countries where there have been actions by China that are really being done behind closed doors, without transparency and without really benefiting the country's citizens and in some cases, compromising the country's sovereignty.”

People designated under the reports usually have their visas revoked and are barred from entering the United States.

The common denominator in both cases is Chinese businessman Bo Yang, who bought the island in November and whose Gold Will Industrial Limited S.A. de C.V. supplied the electoral services.

The Associated Press

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