President Biden promised to attack corruption in Central America head on, but that goal has taken a back seat to cooperating on stopping migrants from the region.
Natalie Kitroeff writes in the New York Times about the challenges facing anti-corruption actors in Guatemala when the priority for the US government is migration.
As is the way of things, there is denial on the part of Washington, when looking to link the systemic corruption, in Guatemala, with migration north.
The testimony was explosive: In June, a witness told Guatemala’s top anticorruption prosecutor that he had gone to the president’s home and delivered a rolled-up carpet stuffed with cash.
It brought the prosecutor, Juan Francisco Sandoval, one step closer to a head-on collision with Guatemala’s president.
Mr. Sandoval’s anticorruption unit had already searched a home linked to the president’s former secretary, looking for information about $16 million his team had found jammed into suitcases. And in May, a witness told him that the president had negotiated a $2.6 million campaign contribution in exchange for maintaining government contracts, documents show.
The president attacked Mr. Sandoval publicly. Top American officials, including Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, expressed alarm over efforts to undermine the anticorruption unit — but the pressure didn’t work.
In July, Mr. Sandoval was abruptly fired and, fearing the investigation would be snuffed out, fled the country with the evidence he had gathered.
“Their priority is migration, and they are sacrificing justice,” said Helen Mack Chang, a Guatemalan human rights activist. “They’re doing the same thing as Trump.”
Jody García contributed to the article from Guatemala City and you can read the full piece, with links and photos here, Biden Faces a Trade-Off: Stop Corruption, or Migration?, and there is a Spanish version available here, El dilema de EE. UU. en Guatemala: ¿detener la corrupción o la migración?