The Pact of the Corrupt “is Falling Apart” in Guatemala


Entrevista con el presidente Bernardo Arevalo

Guatemala’s President Bernardo Arevalo de Leon poses during an interview with EFE on January 25, 2024, in Guatemala City, in an interview with EFE. // Photo: EFE/ David Toro

President of Guatemala: “The political power no longer supports the Attorney General,” but “she is shielded for the moment” because of her position

By Carlos F. Chamorro (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The president of Guatemala, Bernardo Arevalo, took office at midnight on January 14, after circumventing in the new Congress of the Republic “the last ambush of the pact of the corrupt,” which sought to derail his electoral mandate. After his first two weeks at the helm of the Executive Branch, Arevalo affirms that “the pact is falling apart. These networks no longer have control of certain key positions, so they are breaking down in an almost organic way. Although they still have positions of power, as in the case of the Public Ministry,” headed by Attorney General, Consuelo Porras.

The Attorney General, who was appointed by President Jimmy Morales and re-elected by Alejandro Giammattei, “no longer has the backing of the political power in Congress, she is a last bastion of these groups that have been using public institutions to carry out impunity and political persecution. But because of the regulations that define how appointments are managed, she is shielded for the moment,” admits Arévalo.

After Porras refused to meet with the president and give him a report on the performance of the Public Ministry in matters of human rights, freedom of expression, and the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, Arevalo summoned her to a meeting of the Council of Ministers to be held this Monday, January 29, which she is obliged to attend by law, but everything indicates that the confrontation between the Attorney General and Arevalo’s government will continue in the next two years.

In an interview with Esta Semana and CONFIDENCIAL, Arevalo explained his strategy to fight corruption starting with the control of the national budget, the Executive Branch, and the execution of works within the State, to redirect those resources toward public investment in development plans, “focused on the poorest areas of the country, in medicine, hospitals, schools, and roads.” “The most urgent thing is the fight against corruption, but the most important thing is the fight for development, and the fight against corruption is aimed at allowing public institutions to start working again,” he pointed out.

In a regional environment of authoritarian governments and deterioration of democracy in Central America, Arevalo considers that there are no “political conditions to work on a rethinking of integration,” due to the contradiction that exists between some governments of the region “with the Tegucigalpa Protocol, which establishes that the countries that are integrated in Central America are democratic in nature,” and, therefore, he proposes to advance on issues of economic integration with the other governments in trade, and in technical and service areas.

I asked him if it was possible to advance the political integration of Central America with the totalitarian dictatorship of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua operating with impunity. “That is why we have said that progress in political integration is going to be very complicated and that the emphasis has to be, consequently, on progress in economic and social issues,” said Arevalo.

Protests in Guatemala against prosecutor Consuelo Porras. Photo / Archive / Agencies

The Confrontation with the Attorney General’s Office

On January 14 you took office as president of Guatemala after an intense process of attacks and threats that you described as a coup d’état in slow motion. Is that coup intention still in place now, during your first days in office, or has it been defeated?

The coup intention in the classic sense has stopped, simply because the intention was to try to hinder the ceremony of the transfer of power and the assumption of power by the new government in some way. They were trying to do so until the last minute. They failed, and we are already in the legitimate and full exercise of power. 

Now we will see if the Public Ministry, which is still in the hands of this network of actors linked to corruption, and who have been denounced internationally and nationally, decides to continue with these actions, but we will only see that in the future. 

You summoned Attorney General Consuelo Porras to a meeting. You asked her for a report on the performance of the Public Ministry regarding cases of human rights, freedom of expression, and the purchases of the COVID-19 vaccine and the Attorney General alleged that you do not have the authority to summon her to a meeting, nor did she answer you on those issues and said that she is not going to resign. What does this frontal challenge to presidential authority mean?

It means that the Attorney General does not fully understand what the framework for the functioning of institutions in a democratic republic is. What we have done is to remind her of the law, we have summoned her to a new meeting of the Council of Ministers for Monday, and we have cited the article of the Law where it is strictly established that she is obliged to attend these invitations.

But if past performance is any indication, one might assume that this is a confrontation that is going to continue. What consequences might it have for the normal actions of the Government?

We will see what happens as of Monday. She has stated that her actions are within the framework of the law. We have summoned her and given her a clear reference to the law that obliges her to be present and to participate in the discussion of these issues. We will see what happens on Monday.

The Attorney General was appointed by President Jimmy Morales and was reelected by President Alejandro Giammattei, who are no longer in power. Who is backing her today?

Today groups with political power do not support her. In the Congress of the Republic, she has no support. She is practically the last bastion of these groups that have been using public institutions to carry out impunity and political persecution. She has no political backing, but because of the appointments and the regulations that define how these appointments are managed, she is shielded for the time being. We will continue the work set forth, and we will identify the mechanisms to be able to

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