People demonstrate to demand the resignation of Attorney General Consuelo Porras for her antidemocratic actions, in Guatemala City, Guatemala, 27 September 2023. EFE/David Toro

US imposes restrictions on Guatemalan politicians for corruption and undermining democracy

Washington, Oct 31 (EFE).- The United States government on Tuesday issued two statements from the State Department imposing visa restrictions on 15 Guatemalan officials and their immediate families.

The sanctions were imposed on 12 unnamed officials “for undermining democracy and the rule of law” and on two declared former ministers and a current deputy minister for “their involvement in significant corruption.”

Charges of undermining democracy

The statement banning 12 unnamed officials begins by rejecting “continued efforts to undermine Guatemala’s peaceful transition of power to President-elect Arévalo,” referring to actions by Guatemala’s Attorney General’s Office to overturn the election of Bernardo Arévalo.

The statement said the US “joins other regional and international institutions, including the OAS and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in calling for a transfer of power that respects popular will and adheres to the rule of law in Guatemala.”

It does not say who the individuals affected by the ban are, but says “these individuals include Public Ministry officials and other public and private sector actors.”

Both the head of the Public Ministry, Consuleo Porras, and the Special Prosecutor against Impunity, Rafael Curruchiche, have already been sanctioned by the US State Department for undermining democracy and engaging in corruption.

Accusations of corruption Gendri Rocael Reyes, former interior minister, Alberto Pimentel, former energy minister, and Óscar Rafael Pérez, current vice minister of sustainable development, were accused Tuesday of having “accepted bribes in exchange for their performance of their public functions” while in office, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a press release.

The US also banned two of Reyes’ daughters, Pimentel’s wife and daughter, and Pérez’s partner from entering the country, the statement said.

Reyes, who left his post at the ministry in January 2022, had already been singled out by the US in a report presented to Congress in July this year, which included him on a list of “corrupt and undemocratic” actors, along with other officials and politicians from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Since October 2, thousands of Guatemalans have taken to the streets to protest against the Public Prosecutor’s Office and demand the resignation of Porras and Curruchiche.

On Monday, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights urged Guatemala to “guarantee the right to protest” of Guatemalans.EFE