Frank Jack Daniel spoke to people on all sides for a Reuters Special Report about what happened when Juan Francisco Solorzano Foppa, who took over Guatemala’s tax agency in 2016, took on a previously untouchable set of targets, and the backlash that this provoked.
Foppa, as he is known, took on the elites of Guatemala and they decided that he had to go. What happened is yet another example of how the elites control, through massive corruption, the relevant state institutions to further their own interests and impunity.
When Juan Francisco Solorzano Foppa took over Guatemala’s tax agency in 2016, he took on a previously untouchable set of targets: officials, families and companies suspected of bilking much-needed revenue from the government.
The new tax chief purged more than 1,500 tax officers and arrested high-profile suspects, including elders of the country’s tight-knit business class. He wrested an unprecedented $100 million settlement from a major steel company, Aceros de Guatemala S.A., and busted a major hotelier for allegedly forging invoices.
Many here celebrated him for tackling elites long used to getting away with evading taxes. Guatemala is one of the world’s poorest and most unequal countries, with the lowest tax take in Latin America as a percentage of the national economy. But the burly former prosecutor with a buzz cut and a boxer’s nose also made mighty enemies.
You can read the full report, with photographs, here, A tax man went after Guatemala’s elites. Then they hit back.
There was additional reporting by Sofía Menchú in Guatemala City.