Julia Aikman Cifuentes and Adriana Beltrán write, in WOLA, about the recent sacking of Juan Francisco Sandoval, the wave of protests in response, and the criminalisation of members of the judiciary. They also talk of the massive corruption of the elites and the co-option of the Guatemalan justice system by criminal interests.
On Friday, July 23, Guatemalan Attorney General Consuelo Porras removed the country’s lead anti-corruption prosecutor, Juan Francisco Sandoval, from his position as head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity (FECI), forcing him to flee the country that night for fear of further reprisals. This decision, while alarming and concerning, is not surprising, as recent years have seen numerous attacks against independent Guatemalan prosecutors and judges in an effort by the country’s corrupt forces to further concentrate power.
Sandoval’s dismissal ignited a wave of mobilizations across the country. Tens of thousands of Guatemalans, including Indigenous communities and social movements, took to the streets demanding the resignation of Attorney General Consuelo Porras and President Alejandro Giammattei. At least three petitions to lift the attorney general’s immunity have been filed, accusing her of obstruction of justice and abuse of authority, among other crimes.
Sandoval’s removal from the FECI—the investigative office responsible for leading top-level corruption probes—is the latest in a series of calculated attacks by corrupt networks to take over the justice system and undermine the fight against corruption and impunity in Guatemala.
The battle for control of Guatemala’s highest courts saw the culmination in the spring of 2021— with the election of the Constitutional Court, eventually resulting in Congress refusing to allow Gloria Porras to take her seat despite having won re-election for another five year term, a move seen as a direct reprisal by corrupt interests. Many considered the Constitutional Court the last bastion in the fight to protect the rule of law in Guatemala— but now, the court has seen the swearing-in of multiple magistrates with murky backgrounds, clear links to corruption, and troublesome political affiliations.
You can read the full piece, with links, here, Assault on Guatemala’s Justice System Intensifies With Expulsion of Anti-Corruption Prosecutor.