Statement from Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom in Her Visit to Honduras

Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom.
Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom.

As Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, President Obama’s Strategy for U.S engagement in Central America is a top priority for me. It has been a pleasure to discuss the strategy with President Hernandez and his team this afternoon. In the coming days here and in Guatemala and El Salvador, I look forward to the opportunity to see how our strategic partnerships in economic development and citizen security are working, and how they could be enhanced going forward.

A large part of the strategy – and the Alliance for Prosperity proposed by the governments of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador – is the strengthening of government institutions, including their abilities to root out and prosecute corruption and organized criminal activity.

That makes my visit – though long planned – particularly timely. As Ambassador Nealon has noted, Honduras has moved swiftly and decisively to protect the Honduran financial system by assuming management control of Banco Continental, which was designated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control last week as a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.

Banco Continental served as an integral part of the Rosenthal money laundering operations and facilitated the laundering of narcotics proceeds for multiple Central American drug trafficking organizations.

Together our two countries will continue to work in close partnership to safeguard the Honduran and broader international financial system from illicit financial activity and abuse and to ensure the integrity and soundness of the Honduran financial system.

Protecting the bank’s unwitting customers and employees from financial harm is a shared priority for both the United States and Honduran governments.

Honduras has no better partner than the United States. As I meet with Honduran civil society groups and community leaders, young people, new female small-business owners and police officers serving to protect their fellow citizens, I am confident I will not only see ways that our strategic partnership is helping the people of Honduras, but also how to strengthen that enduring partnership.