In late July, the United States designated former Honduran President Porfirio Lobo Sosa for significant corruption. At the same time, his wife, former First Lady Rosa Elena Bonilla Avila was also designated.
The designation for corruption means that Porfirio Lobo, Rosa Lobo, and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.
Porfirio Lobo Sosa, known as Pepe Lobo, served as President of Honduras from 2010 to 2014. A member of the right-wing National Party, he first entered national politics in 1990 as a deputy in the National Congress of Honduras.
“While in office, President Lobo accepted bribes from the narco-trafficking organization Los Cachiros in exchange for political favors,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a written statement.
Rosa Lobo has been accused of misusing hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars from international donations, as well as from the public treasury-- money meant for social programs -- during Lobo’s Presidency. She had been found guilty in a Tegucigalpa court, and was sentenced to 58 years in prison. However, in 2020, a judge ordered a new trial.
“As First Lady, Rosa Lobo engaged in significant corruption through fraud and misappropriation of public funds for her personal benefit,” said Secretary Blinken. “While their corrupt acts undermined the stability of Honduras’ democratic institutions, former President Lobo has not yet been convicted and Rosa Lobo has been released from prison awaiting a retrial.”
Transparency International, a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that works to expose corruption and to prevent criminal activities arising from it, said “corruption is likely to adversely affect long-term economic growth through its impact on investment, taxation, public expenditures and human development.” Corruption negatively “affects equitable distribution of resources across the population, increasing income inequalities, undermining the effectiveness of social welfare programs, and ultimately resulting in lower levels of human development. This, in turn, may undermine long-term sustainable development, economic growth and equality.”
In other words, corruption is a significant obstacle to improving the lives of Hondurans.
“These designations reaffirm U.S. commitment to combating the corruption and disregard for the rule of law that hinders progress in Honduras,” said Secretary Blinken. “The [United States] will continue to use all available tools to promote accountability for corrupt actors and combat impunity in the region and globally.”