The diplomatic row escalated between Guatemala and Colombia

Tension between the governments of Guatemala and Colombia is increasing. This Monday, the Attorney General’s Office of the Central American country announced this He opened an investigation into the Odebrecht case Against the current Minister of Defense of Colombia, Ivan Velazquez, who was the President of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala between 2013 and 2017. President Petro immediately responded to the news, questioning the validity of this judicial decision against his minister. We will defend him and he will remain our minister. If Guatemala insists on arresting only men, we have nothing to do with Guatemala.” announced the president, which also announced that it was recalling the Colombian ambassador to Guatemala, Victoria González Ariza, for consultations. The Guatemalan government returned the message on Tuesday with the same hostility.

“The Department of Foreign Relations, in response to the nearly 200 years of fraternal relationship between Colombia and Guatemala, rejects the Colombian government’s agitation for Guatemalan justice,” Short statement from the State Department, announcing that they would also recall their ambassador for consultations. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs regrets that the Government of Colombia turns the issue of the legal system into a political one, and makes sudden decisions without following the corresponding diplomatic steps. In this sense, we have reciprocated to recall the Guatemalan ambassador to Colombia for consultations.

Added to this diplomatic struggle was the US Under Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, Brian Nichols, who expressed concern about the rule of law in the Central American country. Nichols did not mention the Velazquez case, but rather the arrest warrants issued by the Guatemalan attorney general’s office against other anti-corruption investigators: Thelma Aldana (a former prosecutor); Mayra Vélez (former Secretary to the Public Prosecution Office); David Gaitan (former president of CICIG), Pablo Carrasco (former lawyer and advisor to Odebrecht). Concerned about arrest warrants issued by the Guatemalan Public Prosecution Office against persons who worked to ensure accountability for corruption in the Odebrecht case in Guatemala. Such actions undermine the rule of law and confidence in the Guatemalan judicial system.

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The credibility of Guatemalan justice is in question. Prosecutor Rafael Koruchich, one of the persons included in the United States in ‘Engel List’, June 2022. It is a US government list designating people who have “threaten democratic institutions or processes, engaged in significant acts of corruption or obstructed investigations into such acts of corruption in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.” Among those cited was Attorney General Kuroshichi, who is accused of “obstructing investigations into acts of corruption, and halting high-profile cases against government officials.”

Also in the crosshairs of the United States is the head of the Curruchinche, the Attorney General of Guatemala, named Consuelo Porras. US Department of State Listed in 2021 On the list of “corrupt and undemocratic” actors for their persistent obstruction of justice. Still, Porras has the backing of Guatemalan President Alejandro Giamatti, who renewed her last year for another four years as prosecutor. In the face of US accusations, Giamatti didn’t seem worried. He said at the time, in defense of Boras: “The media or political accusations that may exist according to our constitution have no value in depriving a person of his status, his validity and their honesty.”

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