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Guatemalan prez outs Environmental Minister

InternationalGuatemalan prez outs Environmental Minister

Photo: Guatemalan president, Bernardo Arévalo

by Kristen Ku

BELIZE CITY, Tues. Apr. 16, 2024

Guatemalan president Bernardo Arévalo has dismissed his Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Maria Jose Iturbide, less than 100 days into his presidency, according to Reuters.

The decision comes after Iturbide’s daughter was found to have misused official vehicles and security resources, a violation that could tarnish the administration’s reputation, especially given Arévalo’s campaign promises.

President Arévalo, who took office on January 15, has faced significant political resistance. His victory in the August 2023 elections was powered by a strong anti-corruption message that resonated with voters in Guatemala.

Arévalo’s mandate is seen as a direct challenge to the corrupt practices that have long plagued Guatemalan politics.

The dismissal of Iturbide is the first major personnel change in Arévalo’s administration, and is in line with that government’s pledge to maintain a zero-tolerance stance on the misuse of state resources.

This action is intended “to avoid any doubt about his administration’s commitment and zero tolerance for misuse of state resources and corruption,” stated Arévalo’s secretary general.

The moves by the new administration are being made in the wake of an especially challenging post-election period when opposition to Arevalo’s win within some of Guatemala’s key governmental bodies and institutions made many Guatemalans uncertain that there could be a peaceful inauguration. In fact, shortly after his inauguration, Arévalo faced opposition from the Attorney General of Guatemala, Consuelo Porras, and her allies, including Senior Prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche and Judge Fredy Orellana.

They had previously attempted to discredit Arévalo and his political party, Movimiento Semilla, by targeting election officials and interfering with electoral processes.

Despite attempts to revoke his immunity and disrupt his presidency, including a nine-hour delay during his inauguration due to congressional disputes orchestrated by opponents, Arévalo has maintained the support of the Guatemalan masses and the international community.

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