El Faro English recently put out a note reflecting on the state of the judiciary in Central America, and highlighting the various to and fros with the U.S. State Department. In relation to Guatemala, the focus is, of course, on the treatment of the Juan Francisco Sandoval by the Guatemala Attorney General. The piece also links to news of a new role for the former U.S. Ambassador, Todd Robinson, and comments by the former CICIG commissioner Iván Velásquez.
Persecution of judges and prosecutors, expulsion of international anti-corruption monitors, and cooptation of courts have spread in the region. Iván Velásquez, former head of Guatemala’s UN-backed anti-corruption body CICIG, said in an interview with El Faro that the CICIG closure had a “cascading effect.” “One wonders what legal world we are in. This is Macondo,” says a recently purged Salvadoran judge.
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Todd Robinson, former Ambassador to Guatemala, as Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). Self-exiled in Washington, the recently fired anti-corruption prosecutor Juan Francisco Sandoval celebrated Robinson’s new role by publishing a photo of the two on Twitter.
Robinson’s appointment sends a message to the region’s leaders given his record of challenging corrupt elites in Guatemala while ambassador, and completes the team leading the Biden administration’s strategy in Central America, right when that strategy appears to be changing.
A week ago, the U.S. State Department added Guatemalan Attorney General Consuelo Porras to the Engel List for “obstruct[ing] investigations into acts of corruption,” most notably by firing Sandoval in July. Angel Arnoldo Pineda Avila, Porras’ right hand, was also added to the list.
After Porras was added to the Engel List, Giammattei tweeted that she was accused “without evidence” and that adding her to the list “violated her human rights.”
You can read the full note, with links and photos, here, Who Controls Justice’s Sword?