{"code":"23961","sect":"Centroam\u00e9rica","sect_slug":"centroamerica","hits":"884","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202001\/centroamerica\/23961","link_edit":"","name":"The Quid Pro Quo in Guatemala: Trump Wielding in Central America Same Tactics He Used in Ukraine","slug":"the-quid-pro-quo-in-guatemala-trump-wielding-in-central-america-same-tactics-he-used-in-ukraine","info":"","mtag":"Corruption","noun":{"html":"Sebasti\u00e1n Escal\u00f3n","data":{"sebastian-escalon":{"sort":"","slug":"sebastian-escalon","path":"sebastian_escalon","name":"Sebasti\u00e1n Escal\u00f3n","edge":"0","init":"0"}}},"view":"884","pict":{"cms-image-000032673-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"32673","name":"cms-image-000032673.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000032673.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000032673.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000032673-jpg","text":"<p>US President Donald Trump walks to watch as Guatemala's Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart (L) and Acting US Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan (C) sign a safe-third agreement, regarding people seeking asylum while passing through Guatemala, in the Oval Office of the White House on July 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski \/ AFP)<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EUS President Donald Trump walks to watch as Guatemala's Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart (L) and Acting US Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan (C) sign a safe-third agreement, regarding people seeking asylum while passing through Guatemala, in the Oval Office of the White House on July 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski \/ AFP)\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000030095-jpg":{"feat":"1","sort":"30095","name":"cms-image-000030095.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000030095.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000030095.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000030095-jpg","text":"<p>Aerial view of a university student-led march, on September 20, 2018, demanding former President Jimmy Morales step down. The protesters were also pushing for the renewal of the anticorruption mandate of CICIG, and the return of its head,\u00a0Iv\u00e1n Vel\u00e1squez.<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EAerial view of a university student-led march, on September 20, 2018, demanding former President Jimmy Morales step down. The protesters were also pushing for the renewal of the anticorruption mandate of CICIG, and the return of its head,\u00a0Iv\u00e1n Vel\u00e1squez.\u003C\/p\u003E"}},"pict_main__sort":30095,"date":{"live":"2020\/01\/27"},"data_post_dateLive_YY":"2020","data_post_dateLive_MM":"01","data_post_dateLive_DD":"27","text":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EGuatemala and Ukraine, though a hemisphere apart, have something in common: a trail of corruption leading to the top of both of their governments and private sectors. They share another commonality: for several years, the United States supported pro-transparency organizations\u2019 fights against kleptocracy in both countries. That all changed, in both countries, when Trump took the White House.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAs the U.S. Congress heard testimony during impeachment proceedings from November to December 2019, numerous diplomats testified in an effort by House investigators to shore up accusations against Donald Trump. One of the testimonies caught my attention: that of ex-ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EYovanovitch represented the United States in Ukraine from 2016 to 2019. During her tenure, she oversaw U.S. anti-corruption efforts and supported pro-transparency organizations in Ukrainian civil society, an effort creating powerful enemies in the Slavic nation. At the start of 2019, a disinformation campaign against her gained visibility in the United States through Fox News and other Trump-friendly news outlets, which painted her as a puppet for George Soros and Barack Obama. Numerous stories accused her of covering up the actions of Joe Biden in Ukraine as well as opposing Trump\u2019s will. The campaign was ultimately successful: Trump fired her.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EStill hurting from the scuffle, Yovanovitch explained to Congress that she was unsurprised that the Ukrainians who \u201cpreferred to play by the old, corrupt rules\u201d had conspired against her. What she found disconcerting, though, was that they \u201cfound Americans willing to partner with them.\u201d The Ukrainians working to frustrate the anti-corruption efforts found support from U.S. officials close to Trump.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThis statement has a familiar ring: in a far-off Central American country, another nest of corruption likewise found U.S. officials willing to bolster their interests using the same tools: lobbyists and disinformation campaigns. In their respective anti-corruption campaigns, Ukraine and Guatemala have traveled parallel tracks.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAccording to the State Department, both countries pose real threats to U.S. national security, albeit for different reasons: Guatemala, for the hundreds of thousands of migrants desperately trying to reach U.S. soil; and Ukraine, because the United States and Russia are currently waging a proxy war on its soil. In both countries, U.S. analysts identified corruption as the core threat to their interests. In Guatemala, corruption is synonymous with poverty and migration. In Ukraine, it converts public officials and businesspeople into easy targets for Vladimir Putin.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn keeping with the State Department\u2019s analysis, the Obama administration poured massive investments into reforming the justice systems of both countries.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=2000&ImageHeight=1364&ImageId=30095\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Aerial view of a university student-led march, on September 20, 2018, demanding former President Jimmy Morales step down. The protesters were also pushing for the renewal of the anticorruption mandate of CICIG, and the return of its head,\u00a0Iv\u00e1n Vel\u00e1squez.\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003EAerial view of a university student-led march, on September 20, 2018, demanding former President Jimmy Morales step down. The protesters were also pushing for the renewal of the anticorruption mandate of CICIG, and the return of its head,\u00a0Iv\u00e1n Vel\u00e1squez.\u003Cdiv class=\"photographer text_italic rule--ss_l tint-text--idle\"\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn 2008, Guatemala showed all the symptoms of a failed state: the state had lost control of entire regions of the country, drug traffickers and contract killers had taken deep root within the police force, and crime statistics placed the country among the most violent in the world. With the support of the Guatemalan government, the United Nations created the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG, in Spanish), with the mission of dismantling clandestine security forces within the state and restructuring the police and judicial branch. As the commission\u2019s operational capacity increased, it attacked the corrupt structures that had tied the government\u2019s hands and leeched funds from the already-meager national budget.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn 2015, CICIG discovered a criminal ring led by then-President Otto P\u00e9rez Molina and Vice President Roxana Baldetti, leading to mass protests and forcing the resignation and arrest of the head of state.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn those years, the Obama administration offered political and financial support to CICIG.\u00a0 Without its assistance, the commission\u2019s enemies almost certainly would have rendered it negligible from inception.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAfter Otto P\u00e9rez\u2019s fall, new elections brought Jimmy Morales\u2014a television comedian and political novice\u2014to power, along with a cabal of former military officials and politicians of dubious reputation. Nonetheless, in the first years of the Morales administration, pressure exerted by the United States allowed the anti-corruption efforts to continue. The commission\u2019s investigations sent congresspeople, mayors, ministers, military officials and businesspeople to prison. It managed to shake the all-powerful oligarchy, revealing the institutional mechanisms of impunity and the roots of corruption. CICIG and the Public Ministry even investigated Morales, as well as his son and his brother.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EMeanwhile, in Ukraine, the United States put its diplomatic weight behind the fight against kleptocracy. For example, U.S. pressure led to the creation of an independent prosecutor working with the support of the FBI.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EU.S. ambassadors in both countries became prominent faces in the media. Todd Robinson, in Guatemala City, and Marie Yovanovitch, in Kiev, entered the ring frequently to expose, by name, the major players of state corruption. Their support was vital for advocacy organizations constantly besieged by organized crime.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EEverything changed when Donald Trump assumed the presidency in 2017.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAt first, Guatemalan activists called for calm. After all, they argued, anti-corruption work was a bipartisan issue in Washington. But disillusionment set in fast.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe sectors hit by CICIG regrouped and organized a counter-attack. They set out to choke off the commission by breaking its support from the U.S. and its Colombian commissioner, Iv\u00e1n Vel\u00e1zquez. In 2017, as seen in \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/nomada.gt\/pais\/entender-la-politica\/jimmy-baldizon-and-these-business-executives-organized-the-lobby-against-todd-and-the-cicig-part-1\/\"\u003EJody Garc\u00eda\u2019s investigation for N\u00f3mada\u003C\/a\u003E, a group of businesspeople and politicians, with Morales\u2019s blessing, contracted the services of a lobbying group close to Mike Pence in an effort to sully the image of Iv\u00e1n Vel\u00e1zquez, attorney general Thelma Aldana, and Todd Robinson.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAround the same time, billionaire Bill Browder seized on the case of the wealthy Russian Bitkov family, convicted in Guatemala for buying forged documents, in order to smear CICIG as a regional ally to Putin. The disinformation campaign found allies in Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O\u2019Grady, as well as U.S. senators Marco Rubio and Mike Lee, who managed to temporarily suspend U.S. financial support to CICIG.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn December of 2017, Luis Arreaga replaced Todd Robinson as ambassador, ending support for CICIG and criticism of the Morales administration. When Morales refused to renew CICIG\u2019s mandate, the United States remained silent. When Morales declared Iv\u00e1n Vel\u00e1zquez persona non grata, barring his entry to the country, the United States put up no fight. When Enrique Dagenhart, Minister of Governance, disbanded the police leadership that played a key role in reducing murders and dismantling rings of contract killers, the United States kept quiet.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAs \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.americasquarterly.org\/content\/joe-biden-western-hemisphere-needs-us-leadership\"\u003EJoe Biden reflected in Americas Quarterly\u003C\/a\u003E, \u201cThere could not have been a clearer message to kleptocrats throughout the region that the United States is no longer in the anti-corruption business.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBut then Donald Trump asked for a favor\u2014you might call it a quid pro quo\u2014in return for his silence on corruption: Morales would sign the unpopular \u201csafe third-country\u201d agreement, permitting the U.S. to deport all Honduran and Salvadoran migrants\u2014and possibly Mexicans and others\u2014seeking asylum in the United States to Guatemala. When institutions like the Guatemalan Congress and the Constitutional Court voiced their skepticism of the treaty, Trump threatened Guatemala with tariffs, travel bans, and suspension of all bilateral cooperation. As expected, as usual, Guatemala folded.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=4500&ImageHeight=3000&ImageId=32673\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"US President Donald Trump walks to watch as Guatemala's Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart (L) and Acting US Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan (C) sign a safe-third agreement, regarding people seeking asylum while passing through Guatemala, in the Oval Office of the White House on July 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski \/ AFP)\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003EUS President Donald Trump walks to watch as Guatemala's Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart (L) and Acting US Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan (C) sign a safe-third agreement, regarding people seeking asylum while passing through Guatemala, in the Oval Office of the White House on July 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski \/ AFP)\u003Cdiv class=\"photographer text_italic rule--ss_l tint-text--idle\"\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBut the same tactics that worked so well in Guatemala backfired in Ukraine: after attempting to pressure president Volodymir Zelensky\u2014another television comedian and political novice\u2014for political gain, an anonymous informant blew the famous whistle that triggered the impeachment proceedings.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EMore emboldened than ever after three years of the Trump administration, the chapina kleptocracy in Guatemala is looking to make up for lost time. The election of Alejandro Giammattei to the presidency and the installation of his posse of military men and businesspeople of the old guard signal a continuation in the footsteps of Jimmy Morales. After running for president three times, Giammattei finally won on his fourth try, assuming office on January 14. He is a former prison director, has never held political office, and was prosecuted for extrajudicial killings, but finally acquitted.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAcross the Atlantic, things are also going poorly. An article in \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.economist.com\/europe\/2019\/11\/23\/americas-losing-battle-against-corruption-in-eastern-europe\"\u003EThe Economist\u003C\/a\u003E shows just how much U.S. support for anti-corruption efforts has declined in Ukraine, leaving local activists more vulnerable than ever. The same is happening in other eastern European countries, including Romania, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe damage has been \u201cincalculable,\u201d a U.S. diplomat told The Economist. \u201cIt will take decades to rebuild our credibility. What other countries are seeing in this White House is everything we\u2019ve preached against.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E(This article was \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/nomada.gt\/pais\/actualidad\/como-donald-trump-dio-luz-verde-a-la-corrupcion-en-guatemala-y-ucrania\/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=20200121_pais_actualidad_trumpcorrupcionucrania\"\u003Eoriginally published\u003C\/a\u003E in Spanish in N\u00f3mada.)\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E*Translated by Roman Gressier\u003C\/p\u003E"}