Guatemalan prosecutor branded corrupt by US is hired for a new term | world news
GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei reappointed the country’s attorney general for a new term on Monday, just months after the prosecutor was accused by the U.S. government of dismantling anti-corruption efforts.
Last year, Maria Consuelo Porras appeared on the list of “corrupt and undemocratic actors” published by the US State Department, singled out for having thwarted investigations into corruption through arrests and other actions.
“It wasn’t just a decision taken lightly,” Giammattei said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a tweet late Monday that “Attorney General Porra’s corrupt acts are undermining democracy in Guatemala” and called on Guatemalans to encourage accountability, respect and the rule of law.
In recent days, the president has lambasted calls for intervention to deny Porras a second term, while defending her record as impartial and non-ideological.
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Giammattei said last week he received calls, threats and a visit from the ambassador of a “foreign power” asking him not to renew Porras.
After Giammattei’s new vote of confidence, Porras will remain in his post for four more years, having taken up the post of attorney general in 2018.
After the 68-year-old lawyer fired the former head of Guatemala’s Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity (FECI) last year, allegations that Porras was obstructing investigations related to Giammattei grew.
During Porras’ first term, his office also arrested several FECI officials as well as a lawyer for the United Nations-backed CICIG anti-corruption commission, which was expelled from Guatemala in 2018 after its investigations failed. led to the condemnation of former presidents and high-level businessmen.
Other FECI officials resigned, saying they had been expelled as part of political persecution, which Porras denied.
Corruption in Guatemala is often cited as a major push factor for increased migration to the United States, along with unemployment and gang violence.
Some civil society leaders have also criticized the choice.
“Porras is committed to ending corruption investigations and bringing bogus cases against journalists, prosecutors and judges,” Human Rights Watch’s Juan Pappier wrote in a Twitter post.
“Guatemalan democracy is seriously threatened.”
(Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Writing by Valentine Hilaire; Editing by David Alire and Stephen Coates)
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