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Juan Orlando Hernandez, Honduras' president, speaks during the United Nations General Assembly as seen on a laptop computer. Photo: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned a current and a former Guatemalan government official, and some Democrats want restrictions on Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández over corruption allegations.

Why it matters: The moves come after U.S. federal prosecutors said they are investigating Hernández in connection with drug trafficking in the U.S. and for vowing to "‘shove the drugs right up the noses of the gringos." Congressional leaders also are pressing for action in Honduras to halt migration.

The details: The U.S. Treasury Department announced on Monday it had blacklisted two Guatemalans, Gustavo Adolfo Alejos Cambara, a former presidential chief of staff, and Felipe Alejos Lorenzana, a delegate to the Congress.

  • The department alleged that Gustavo Alejos sought to interfere with a judicial selection process in order to facilitate his release from house arrest and dismissal of corruption charges against him.
  • Felipe Alejos facilitated bribes in the scheme, the department said.
  • The blacklisting means any of their assets in the U.S. are frozen and Americans are barred from business dealings with the men.

What they're saying: “When elected officials in Guatemala pursue self-enrichment in their official duties, it is an affront to democratic principles in the region,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.

  • “This action serves to shine a light on corruption and promote accountability for those who would seek to thwart the judicial process.”

Meanwhile, a measure introduced in the U.S. Senate and House would impose restrictions on Honduran President Hernández over allegations of drug trafficking and human rights violations.

  • The bill would suspend U.S. security assistance and weapons to the Honduran police and military.
  • “The Honduran people continue to leave their country because of violence, corruption and lack of economic opportunities. The institutions intended to protect the public are instead violating human rights and protecting criminals and drug traffickers,” said U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.), one of the bill's lead sponsors.

The big question: Jason Marczak, director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, said tackling corruption and human rights abuses in Honduras is essential for putting the country on a long-term path to growth and prosperity.

  • "Rampant corruption, including allegations of President Hernandez’ direct ties to narcotraffickers...gives clear and just pause for working too closely with many members of the national government."

The intrigue: The president's brother and former Honduran lawmaker, Tony Hernández, was sentenced last month to life in prison for distributing firearms and 185 tons of cocaine in the U.S.

Don't forget: Hispanic U.S. House members are pushing for an aggressive, multiyear "Marshall Plan" for Central America to tackle regional violence, corruption and economic devastation.

Go deeper

10 mins ago - World

Blinken to visit Ukraine as Russia invasion threat looms

Blinken (R) with President Zelensky. Photo: Efrem Lukatsky/Pool via Getty

Secretary of State Antony Tony Blinken will travel to Ukraine on Tuesday as the country faces an ongoing threat of Russian invasion.

Driving the news: Blinken will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, as well as officials at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv to discuss contingency planning. He'll then travel to Berlin to meet German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and attend a meeting of the "Transatlantic Quad" — France, Germany, the U.K. and U.S.

Updated 16 mins ago - World

At least 3 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least three people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Tuesday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. Officials in Tonga confirmed three deaths in the country's first official statement since the crisis began.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Charted: GOP surged as Biden slumped

Expand chart
Reproduced from Gallup. (Independents were asked their party leaning.) Chart: Axios Visuals

Gallup polling found a huge shift in party preference over the course of 2021, from a 9-point Democratic advantage in the first quarter to a 5-point Republican edge in the fourth quarter.

Why it matters: It's the biggest swing in one calendar year for Gallup's 30 years of tracking.