A protester holds a sign with “Resign, Thief” printed over a portrait of Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei outside the National Palace in Guatemala City, July 24, 2021 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).
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 [...]
Artists and activists pose for photos next to a mural at the United Nations International Commission Against Impunity, CICIG, headquarters in Guatemala City, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).
The word corruption tends to evoke images of self-dealing politicians and bureaucrats, and for good reason. In Central America, graft is so endemic among public officials that it constitutes a “root cause” of out-migration from the region, according to U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration.  But the private sector can play just as central a role in sustaining corruption. In recent years, traditional business elites in Central America have bankrolled efforts to roll back progress made by prosecutors and civil society groups to strengthen the rule of law.  This poses a key challenge for the Biden administration. While it has shown [...]
President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House, in Washington, July 19, 2021 (AP photo Andrew Harnik).
In early June, President Joe Biden issued a memorandum “establishing the fight against corruption as a core United States national security interest” and ordering a significant mobilization of government resources to address this issue. The move comes amid heightened public awareness of the threats to democracy and security posed by transnational corruption, mainly due to the Panama Papers leaks that began in 2016 as well as the various investigations into allegations of malfeasance against former President Donald Trump and his associates.  Yet while some federal agencies and departments have taken steps to turn Biden’s laudable rhetoric into reality, it still [...]
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