Kevin Sieff writes in The Washington Post on the challenges facing an independent judiciary in Guatemala through the situation of Judge Erika Aifán and the ongoing State attempts at criminalisation. Her bravery is unquestioned and neither is the cowardice of the country’s political and business elite.
Judge Erika Aifán was in her 14th-floor office in Guatemala’s towering judicial building when she heard the buzzing noise. She pulled the curtains aside and found herself staring at a surveillance drone, inches from the glass window.
Her colleagues wondered aloud how a drone could get so close to one of the most sensitive government offices in the country. But Aifán knew. It was her own government that was spying on her.
Aifán, 46, is the judge of Guatemala’s high-risk court, which handles the country’s biggest corruption and criminal cases, including several indictments targeting politicians and wealthy business executives. She has collected witness testimony alleging that President Alejandro Giammattei funded his campaign with $2.6 million in bribes from powerful construction companies. (He has denied the allegations.)
Aifán is among the ever-shrinking group of Guatemalan judges and prosecutors handling such cases who have not been fired, arrested or forced to flee the country.
So many Guatemalan judges and prosecutors have sought asylum in the United States amid threats against their lives that they have formed a WhatsApp group in Washington. The group has at least 10 members, all judges and special prosecutors. Its name: “Dignity.”
At least seven times, Guatemala’s attorney general and other members of the country’s political and business elite have attempted to revoke Aifán’s judicial immunity, which would allow the government to jail her. Aifán says she has found recording devices planted in her office. She’s been followed repeatedly. Her security detail eventually traced the surveillance drone outside her office to a municipal government office.
You can read the full piece, with links and photograph, here This judge is one of the last U.S. allies in the Guatemala corruption fight. Politicians keep trying to sideline her.