(Reuters) – A creeping barrage of U.S. sanctions on top Central American officials has made China an attractive partner for governments resisting Washington’s push to tackle corruption and democratic backsliding in the region, officials and analysts say.
The trend was thrust into focus this week when Nicaragua re-established ties with Beijing, severing a longstanding relationship with U.S. ally Taiwan, which relies heavily on diplomatic recognition from small countries.
Other countries in the region are also courting China. Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele ratified his country’s new economic cooperation accord with China earlier this year after Washington put close aides of his on a corruption blacklist.
Bukele, who this week accused Washington of demanding “absolute submission or bust”, in May celebrated that China had made $500 million public investments “without conditions.”
Nicaragua’s decision to embrace China followed a slew of sanctions against aides to President Daniel Ortega following his re-election for a fourth consecutive term in a campaign steeped in the arrests of leading opposition figures.
While Nicaragua’s case is “unique” in Central America due to its increasingly authoritarian bent, the international isolation of Ortega played a role in his switch to China, according to a senior U.S. official, who noted:
“As the sanctions tighten, they look for other avenues and economic partners, there is an element of that.”
U.S. pressure on Central American officials ranges from visa revocations to Treasury sanctions, effectively cutting them off from the global banking system. For El Salvador, Washington is also readying criminal charges against two senior Bukele allies.
Beijing offers respite from U.S. pressure, a strategy that has previously thrown economic lifelines to leaders isolated from the West elsewhere in the region, including Venezuela, said R. Evan Ellis, a professor at the U.S. Army War College.
“China, in pursuing its strategic economic interests, is sustaining authoritarian populists in power, leading to a region which is ever less democratic,” said Ellis, an expert on China’s engagement with Latin America.
more recommended stories
Traditional cooks ask to respect and protect the original flavor of ancestral Mexican cuisine
The International Meeting “The Children of.
Maya Train continues with archaeological salvage work in Balancán, Tabasco
The exploration of two architectural complexes.
Hong Kong to kill thousands of hamsters after Covid found on 11 animals
Hong Kong has ordered thousands of.
17-year-old girl Monserrat Rodríguez reported missing in Mérida
Monserrat Rodríguez has been missing for.
Tourism decreases in Celestún and Sisal due to Cold Front No. 22
With intense gusts of wind and.
Governor Inaugurates the C5I Yucatan Control Center
The C5I Yucatan Control Center will.
Suicide number 7 is recorded in Campeche so far this year
Suicide in Campeche, a mental health.
Construction company seeks to devastate the Sian Ka’an Reserve in Tulum
The construction company Obra Prima seeks.
Sargassum lands on Cozumel beach along with cold front #22
Large amounts of sargassum landed out.
According to Irving Berlin, INAH must evaluate any change in “Casa de Montejo”
The Mérida City Council Culture Department.