Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Guatemala: Criticism grows for re-election of tax controversy

GUATEMALA CITY ( Associated Press) — The European Union, the U.S. government and even people on the streets of the Guatemalan capital on Tuesday criticized President Alejandro Giammattei’s decision to re-elect Attorney General Consuelo Porras for four more years, whom he point to a lack of commitment in the fight against corruption.

The decision raises concerns about the Guatemalan authorities’ commitment to combating that problem and protecting the independence of the judiciary, European Union spokesman Peter Stano said in a statement.

“Under the supervision of this Attorney General, the Public Ministry has initiated legal actions against various judges, lawyers and independent prosecutors involved in the investigation of high-level corruption cases. This has resulted in their arrests and the loss of their immunity from prosecution,” the spokesman explained, adding that the actions are part of “a broader pattern of intimidation and harassment that has led more than 20 justice operators to leave the country. ”.

Porras has aroused controversy because during his administration more than 20 justice operators —some judges and prosecutors— have gone into exile because they consider themselves persecuted for alleged failures in the anti-corruption investigations they carried out.

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On Monday President Giammattei re-elected Porras to hold the post for four more years. “It is a sovereign and transparent decision,” defended the president, who has been close to her during her management.

“You hear so much that it has links to corruption. How could the president reelect her again?” said Ruth González, a housewife, about Porras’s reelection. The 40-year-old woman added that she sees with concern how “the country seems to be going backwards instead of advancing.”

“It was a collusion between the president and the other powers so that she remains a prosecutor, the purpose is to keep many people in power and soften the penalties for the people who were prosecuted and convicted of corruption,” Luis Barrientos said in turn. , University professor.

To the reactions of the people were added those of some organizations, such as the 48 Cantons, which brings together indigenous authorities from western Guatemala.

Hours after her re-election, the United States Department of State announced that it would extend sanctions that were already weighing against her for “hindering” the fight against corruption in the country and undermining democracy. The Public Ministry responded that “it is an autonomous institution” and “does not accept any type of intervention or pressure.”

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In September 2021, Washington sanctioned Porras and his secretary general, Ángel Pineda, and included them in a list of corrupt and anti-democratic actors, prohibiting them from entering that country due to the dismissal of Juan Francisco Sandoval, an anti-corruption prosecutor.

Together with the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, Sandoval led anti-corruption investigations that dismantled at least 60 criminal structures and brought judges, politicians and businessmen accused of corruption to justice. He is one of the former prosecutors exiled in the United States.

Porras fired Sandoval in July of last year. The former prosecutor denounced that his dismissal was due to the fact that he received information about possible acts of corruption and bribery from Giammattei. The prosecutor did not delve into the complaints against the president, but did initiate a process against Sandoval.

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Nation World News Desk
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