Jeff Abbott writes a column in The Progressive, The Other Americans, and this is from his latest piece.
The Guatemalan government, helmed by President Alejandro Giammattei, continues to impede the country’s institutions meant to combat official corruption. While these attempts to maintain a culture of impunity began years prior, the recent removal of a respected prosecutor from a special anti-impunity bureau represents a significant new blow.
“In the last years, especially in the last month, there have been significant steps back in the struggle against corruption,” Edie Cux, legal representative with the anti-corruption group Acción Ciudadana, tells The Progressive. “The most chilling action was the illegal removal of Juan Francisco Sandoval.”
Attorney General Consuelo Porras “represents the structure that seeks to hide cases of corruption,” he adds, “especially in this government.”
On July 23, Porras announced that Juan Francisco Sandoval, the internationally renowned head of Guatemala’s Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity (FECI), was to be removed from his position for his alleged “frequent abuses to the institutionality” of the ministry.
In a July 23 press conference following his removal, Sandoval provided examples of Porras’s office maintaining an atmosphere of impunity. These included the arrival of a group of Russians to the presidential house, where a carpet full of money was presented to the president. Following the press conference, Sandoval fled the country in fear of his safety.
Sandroval’s accusations seemed to be confirmed when prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche was named the new lead prosecutor of the anti-impunity office. Curruchiche, a close ally of Porras, has been accused of protecting business leaders and politicians from prosecution.
The removal of the praised investigator led to weeks of Indigenous-led public protests, including widespread road blocks demanding the return of Sandoval and the resignations of President Giammattei and Attorney General Porras.
The international community has condemned these developments. The United States responded to the removal of Sandoval by partially suspending cooperation with the attorney general’s office; publishing a list of politicians and far-right activists, primarily of the far-right Foundation Against Terrorism, accused of corruption and strengthening the culture of impunity; and calling for new sanctions against officials accused of corruption.
But this does little to prevent further corruption.
“They only begin to worry when you touch their assets,” Alejandra Colom, an anthropologist at Guatemala’s Del Valle University, tells The Progressive. “Removing the visas of those of Foundation Against Terrorism is symbolic and seems correct, but it isn’t something that makes them worry.”
You can read the full piece, with links, here, Guatemala’s Government Is Defying Biden’s Anti-Corruption Efforts.
This piece is from ‘The Other Americans’, a column created by the author for The Progressive, on the theme of human migration in North and Central America, and you can read more of his columns here, The Other Americans.