Guatemalan Attorney General placed on US list of corrupt actors
María Consuelo Porras Argueta was sworn in as Attorney General and Head of Public Ministries in Guatemala for a 2nd four-year term, but the US State Department says her re-election is a “step back” for democracy in the nation. Guatemalan president Alejandro Giammattei says the office will never be used “to impose an ideological or political agenda” again.
BELIZE CITY, Wed. May 18, 2022
By Marco Lopez
On Monday, Consuelo Porras was re-elected Attorney General of Guatemala and sworn in with the blessing of President Alejandro Giammattei, who said that she met all professional and constitutional requirements to hold the high office. The United States, however, has moved to ban Porras and her family from entering the country after designating her a “corrupt actor.”
The State Department of the United States and the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, have publicly outlined the US’s position on the re-election of Porras. The State Department commented via Twitter, “The new nomination of Porras deeply undermines confidence in Guatemala’s commitment to combat corruption and strengthen the rule of law.” And Blinken said that the decision to oppose the re-election of Porras is a move which “sends a strong signal that the United States stands with all Guatemalans to foster accountability, transparency, and respect for the rule of law.”
The US claims Porras has used her office to obstruct anti-corruption investigations within the country to protect political allies. She was first placed on the list of anti-democratic and corrupt actors presented to Congress in September 2021. On May 16, this Monday, the US State Department issued a release saying that they are considering additional designations against Porras.
Guatemala’s Public Ministry, of which Porras is also head, responded with a Twitter post which stated that the Prosecution’s Office is autonomous and “not subordinated to any international entity.”
Last July, hundreds took to the streets in protest of Porras’ sacking of Washington-backed Juan Francisco Sandoval, from his position as the head of an anti-corruption unit in Guatemala. He has sought asylum in the United States, where he has been living since leaving Guatemala shortly after his removal. There are also reports that anti-corruption lawyers have been arrested under Porras’ command.
On Tuesday, in response to the U.S.’s public stance of opposition to Porras’ re-election and following the imposition of a ban on her entry into the U.S., the Guatemalan president announced that he will not attend the Summit of the Americas this June in Los Angeles, and demanded that the US respect the country and its sovereignty.
Other states in Latin America, such as Mexico and Bolivia, have made their attendance at the Summit conditional on the inclusion of all countries in the Americas. Also, according to current CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, CARICOM has indicated that the regional body might not be attending the Summit unless all states in the Americas, including Cuba, are invited.