The Biden administration’s strategy to combat mass migration from Central America by tackling its “root causes” just suffered a harsh blow in Guatemala with the ouster of the country’s top anti-corruption official. Juan Francisco Sandoval, the respected chief prosecutor in the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity, known by its Spanish acronym FECI, was fired Friday and promptly fled the country, fearing for his life.
Sandoval’s ouster prompted street protests and demands for the resignation of President Alejandro Giammattei and Attorney General Consuelo Porras. Above all, Sandoval’s dismissal, and his belief that he might be killed if he remained in the country, offer powerful evidence that Guatemala’s pernicious, endemic corruption is not just failing to improve despite prodding from Washington, but is almost certain to become worse.
For everyday Guatemalans, who have been leaving the country in droves, this is another blaring alarm about the many risks they face. For the Biden administration, it is a bracing reminder that the “root causes” strategy in Central America will continue to run into opposition from powerful foes in the region.