GUATEMALA CITY, Fri. July 30, 2021– Last week, thousands of Guatemalan citizens took to the streets in protest, calling for the resignation of President Alejandro Giammattei and Attorney General Maria Porras, after she announced the removal of the head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity, Juan Francisco Sandoval.
The protestors, backed largely by indigenous peoples and students, are asserting that the Giammattei administration lacks the political will to address corruption. The removal of Sandoval suggests that there may be evidence linking the President to high-level corruption, and, indeed, information has surfaced that indicates a possible link between the president and a $122 million quetzales ($15 million US) scandal allegedly involving the country’s former infrastructure minister.
He also said that his office was investigating the alleged delivery of bags of money to the president’s house by an unknown Russian businessman.
President Giammattei has denied the claims and has called the allegations borderline slander and defamation.
The US has since strongly condemned the removal of Sandoval and has ceased in supporting Attorney General Porras. One US official has gone so far as to state that they have “lost confidence in the attorney general.”
Thousands demonstrated in Guatemala City and in front of the presidential quarters on Thursday in the largest demonstration in that country since 2015. In November of 2020, Giammattei’s government also faced protests after a ground demonstrator set the congress building ablaze in response to proposed cuts in education and healthcare in the 2021 budget.
About two years ago, the former president of Guatemala Jimmy Morales moved to end the country’s arrangement with the CICIG. The cases were turned over to the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity, whose head, the ousted Juan Francisco Sandoval, has since had to flee the country in fear of his life.