Sabrina Rodríguez and Eugene Daniels write in Politico about the challenges facing U.S. policy on anti-corruption in Guatemala, while also prioritising migration from Central America more broadly.
When Vice President Kamala Harris visited Guatemala in June, she delivered a clear message alongside the country’s president: The U.S. would work to root out corruption in the country, even at the highest level of government.
At the time, President Alejandro Giammattei underscored his commitment to working with Harris on the task. But two months later, his administration is proving itself to be part of the problem.
Last month, Guatemala’s attorney general ousted the country’s top anti-corruption prosecutor, Juan Francisco Sandoval, who earlier this year received recognition from the State Department for his work fighting corruption. In the days since, thousands of Guatemalans have taken to the streets throughout the country to call for the president and attorney general to step down. More recently, Rafael Curruchiche, a controversial figure known for protecting the corrupt and prosecuting their political opposition, has been tapped to take over Sandoval’s job as head of the country’s anti-corruption unit.
Giammattei has long insisted that his administration is not part of Guatemala’s corruption problem, despite civil society leaders, anti-corruption prosecutors and experts on the region arguing that he is. Nevertheless, the situation has placed Harris and the Biden administration writ large in a tricky political perch: The U.S. has been leaning on Guatemala as a focal point in its efforts to tackle the destabilizing conditions that push migrants to head to the U.S. border. Now, they need to show their commitment to fighting corruption abroad is more than just talk.
The administration is keenly aware that, while it hasn’t cut off cooperation with other leaders in Guatemala (the president or foreign minister, for example), its actions could eventually have an impact on the overall relationship, including cooperation on issues impacting migration.
You can read the full piece here, Guatemala is key to Biden’s migrant policy. Its corruption is worsening.