US Suspends Cooperation With Guatemala Attorney General

GUATEMALA CITY: The U.S. government has suspended cooperation with Guatemalas Attorney Generals Office in response to the firing of its top anti-corruption prosecutor, saying Tuesday that it has lost confidence in the Central American countrys willingness to fight corruption.

U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters in Washington that the decision by Guatemala Attorney General Consuelo Porras to fire Juan Francisco Sandoval, the special prosecutor against impunity, fits a pattern of behavior that indicates a lack of commitment to the rule of law and independent, judicial, and prosecutorial processes.

As a result, we have lost confidence in the attorney general and the intention to cooperate with the U.S. government and fight corruption in good faith, Porter said.

She said the suspension would remain in effect while the U.S. reviews its assistance to the Attorney Generals Office.

A strong U.S. response was expected after Sandovals dismissal Friday. He fled the country the same day. Protests in Guatemala have called for Porras’ resignation.

The firing came less than two months after Vice President Kamala Harris visited Guatemala and spoke with President Alejandro Giammattei about the importance of the countrys anti-corruption efforts. Harris has targeted corruption in the region as one of the key factors in pushing outward migration.

A day before Sandovals firing, Porras had reassigned another prosecutor from Sandovals office.

Porras has defended Sandovals firing, accusing him of ideological bias in his prosecutions. Porras was appointed by the previous president, Jimmy Morales, but Giammattei has spoken of his friendship with her as well.

Sandoval said Porras had repeatedly worked to block his investigations, especially those with proximity to Giammattei.

On Sunday, lawyer Marco Aurelio Alveo Hernndez said he had told Sandovals office that one of his clients, a former Guatemalan central banker, had paid a bribe through Alveo to an adviser of Porras so his corruption case was moved from Sandovals office to another prosecutor.

Alveo fled the country Sunday with his family fearing potential retribution for his cooperation with Sandovals office.

Guatemalas government has been criticized over the past year for driving out judges known for taking a hard line on corruption. The moves are a continuation of the effort that ended the 12-year run of the United Nations anti-corruption mission in Guatemala in 2019 during Morales’ presidency.


Associated Press writer Sonia Perez D. reported this story in Guatemala City and AP writer Matthew Lee reported from Washington.

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