“This is an affront to democracy, and each and every citizen of the country should be offended,”
José Luis Sanz presents an interesting and timely interview with Magistrate Gloria Porras in El Faro English. As presented here, and elsewhere, the failure to ratify her position on the Constitutional Court is another example of the rampant corruption at the heart of the Guatemala state.
Judge Gloria Patricia Porras Escobar left Guatemala for the United States on Tuesday, April 13, the same day that the Guatemalan Congress decided not to swear her in for a third term as chief magistrate of the Constitutional Court. She left in the thick of night, just before her judicial immunity was set to expire, to avoid a potential arrest warrant. Seven years ago, former Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz was forced to do the same.
The obstruction isn’t just a veto, dressed up in the courtroom garb of a suspension of a magistrate who in recent years symbolized the resistance against the dismantling of Guatemalan anti-corruption institutions. It’s also one step further, and perhaps a decisive one, in the strategy to capture — or recover — the justice system, drawn up in 2013 by economic and political elites terrified by the genocide trial against Efraín Ríos Montt.
It’s no happenstance, then, that on the same day Porras was sidelined, the Congress opted instead to appoint Roberto Molina Barrero, who two years ago ran for vice president on the ticket of Zuri Ríos, the daughter and protégé of Ríos Montt. Or that attorney Leyla Lemus, a confidant of President Alejandro Giammattei and, until weeks ago, a member of his cabinet, likewise joined the court. Despite pressure from the United States and various European embassies, Guatemala appears to have all but forsaken judicial independence.
You can read the interview, translated into English by Roman Gressier, here, “Whether on the Court or Not, I Swore to Protect the Constitution”. The original, in Spanish, can be read here, “Regresaré a Guatemala”.
For more background on the elections to the Constitutional Court and its importance for justice in Guatemala, you can read this, Very High Stakes – Elections to the Constitutional Court.