{"code":"25580","sect":"Central America","sect_slug":"central-america","hits":"620","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202106\/centroamerica\/25580","link_edit":"","name":"Guatemala's Counterattack against Anti-Corruption Campaign","slug":"guatemalas-counterattack-against-anti-corruption-campaign","info":"Judges, the Human Rights Ombudsman, the chief anti-corruption prosecutor, a former superintendent of taxes, and a former CICIG analyst are under siege in Guatemala. The expulsion of the United Nations anti-corruption commission in September 2019 gave rise to different setbacks in the battle against corruption. \u201cGuatemala doesn\u2019t ever seem to hit bottom,\u201d said one of the former justice officials who fought corruption alongside the CICIG. Some say mafias, entrenched in power for decades, are behind the moves. Leer en espa\u00f1ol .","mtag":"Corruption","noun":{"html":"\u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/glabrador'\u003E Gabriel Labrador\u003C\/span\u003E","data":{"gabriel-labrador":{"sort":"glabrador","slug":"gabriel-labrador","path":"gabriel_labrador","name":"Gabriel Labrador","edge":"0","init":"0"}}},"view":"620","pict":{"cms-image-000036050-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"36050","name":"cms-image-000036050.JPG","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036050.JPG","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036050.JPG","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000036050-jpg","text":"<p>Judge Erika Aif\u00e1n in her office at Guatemala City\u2019s Palace of Justice during an interview with El Faro on June 11, 2021. Aif\u00e1n is a high-risk judge, and she monitors corruption and organized crime cases. She has protective measures issued by the IACHR because of the threats she has faced since 2006, when she was assigned to the city of Jutiapa, one of the most dangerous in the country. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EJudge Erika Aif\u00e1n in her office at Guatemala City\u2019s Palace of Justice during an interview with El Faro on June 11, 2021. Aif\u00e1n is a high-risk judge, and she monitors corruption and organized crime cases. She has protective measures issued by the IACHR because of the threats she has faced since 2006, when she was assigned to the city of Jutiapa, one of the most dangerous in the country. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000036051-jpg":{"feat":"1","sort":"36051","name":"cms-image-000036051.JPG","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036051.JPG","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036051.JPG","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000036051-jpg","text":"<p>On June 5, 2021, a day before U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris\u2019s visit to Guatemala, a group of citizens protested against President Alejandro Giammettei, who took office in January 2020. \u201cKamala, they\u2019re lying to you\u201d was a slogan of the protest. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro <\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EOn June 5, 2021, a day before U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris\u2019s visit to Guatemala, a group of citizens protested against President Alejandro Giammettei, who took office in January 2020. \u201cKamala, they\u2019re lying to you\u201d was a slogan of the protest. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro \u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000036052-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"36052","name":"cms-image-000036052.JPG","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036052.JPG","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036052.JPG","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000036052-jpg","text":"<p>Juan Francisco Sol\u00f3rzano Foppa (center) and An\u00edbal Arg\u00fcello (left), during the legal proceedings in which they were prosecuted for three electoral crimes on June 10, 2021, at Torre de Tribunales. That day, the judge ruled that two of the three crimes for which they were arrested were null for lack of merit. Along with them, several environmentalists who also wanted to form the political party were arrested. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro <\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EJuan Francisco Sol\u00f3rzano Foppa (center) and An\u00edbal Arg\u00fcello (left), during the legal proceedings in which they were prosecuted for three electoral crimes on June 10, 2021, at Torre de Tribunales. That day, the judge ruled that two of the three crimes for which they were arrested were null for lack of merit. Along with them, several environmentalists who also wanted to form the political party were arrested. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro \u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000036053-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"36053","name":"cms-image-000036053.JPG","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036053.JPG","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036053.JPG","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000036053-jpg","text":"<p>An\u00edbal Arg\u00fcello, during the hearing at Guatemala\u2019s Palace of Justice on Thursday, June 10, 2021. Arg\u00fcello, 31, is a former CICIG analyst who investigated major corruption networks, among them, La L\u00ednea, which was the investigation that forced Otto P\u00e9rez Molina and Roxana Baldetti, the officials who had been elected in 2012, to resign. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro <\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EAn\u00edbal Arg\u00fcello, during the hearing at Guatemala\u2019s Palace of Justice on Thursday, June 10, 2021. Arg\u00fcello, 31, is a former CICIG analyst who investigated major corruption networks, among them, La L\u00ednea, which was the investigation that forced Otto P\u00e9rez Molina and Roxana Baldetti, the officials who had been elected in 2012, to resign. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro \u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000036054-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"36054","name":"cms-image-000036054.JPG","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036054.JPG","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036054.JPG","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000036054-jpg","text":"<p>Gaspar Cojtin Tuy, 65, came from Solol\u00e1 to demonstrate in favor of former Financial Administration Superintendent, Juan Francisco Sol\u00f3rzano Foppa, arrested for trying to form a political party and allegedly violating Guatemala\u2019s electoral law. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EGaspar Cojtin Tuy, 65, came from Solol\u00e1 to demonstrate in favor of former Financial Administration Superintendent, Juan Francisco Sol\u00f3rzano Foppa, arrested for trying to form a political party and allegedly violating Guatemala\u2019s electoral law. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000036055-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"36055","name":"cms-image-000036055.JPG","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036055.JPG","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036055.JPG","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000036055-jpg","text":"<p>Juan Francisco Sandoval, chief of the Special Prosecutor\u2019s Office Against Impunity (FECI), worked very closely with the UN-backed anti-mafia commission. With the commission\u2019s departure, Sandoval and his team took up the defense of all the corruption cases that it investigated along with the CICIG. Sandoval has also been the victim of persecution, threats, and cyber-harassment because of the crimes prosecuted by the office he directs. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro <\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EJuan Francisco Sandoval, chief of the Special Prosecutor\u2019s Office Against Impunity (FECI), worked very closely with the UN-backed anti-mafia commission. With the commission\u2019s departure, Sandoval and his team took up the defense of all the corruption cases that it investigated along with the CICIG. Sandoval has also been the victim of persecution, threats, and cyber-harassment because of the crimes prosecuted by the office he directs. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro \u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000036056-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"36056","name":"cms-image-000036056.JPG","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036056.JPG","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036056.JPG","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000036056-jpg","text":"<p>Jord\u00e1n Rodas, Guatemala\u2019s Human Rights Ombudsperson, during an interview with the newspaper El Faro. Guatemala City, September 3, 2018. Photo: Victor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EJord\u00e1n Rodas, Guatemala\u2019s Human Rights Ombudsperson, during an interview with the newspaper El Faro. Guatemala City, September 3, 2018. Photo: Victor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\u003C\/p\u003E"}},"pict_main__sort":36051,"date":{"live":"2021\/06\/30"},"data_post_dateLive_YY":"2021","data_post_dateLive_MM":"06","data_post_dateLive_DD":"30","text":"\u003Cp\u003ESince January 2016, Judge \u00c9rika Aif\u00e1n has filed more than 100 complaints against employees of her Guatemala City court for espionage, leaking documents, dereliction of duty, and a variety of other actions. She has brought the complaints before the Judiciary\u2019s disciplinary system and the Public Prosecutor\u2019s Office (led by the attorney general), but in all these years, she has not received a response. Many of her complaints have been rejected and only in one case did the Public Prosecutor\u2019s Office take up the case to initiate proceedings. She was notified of that case at the beginning of June. The defendant in that case is a former process server, and Aif\u00e1n discovered that he was leaking rulings on WhatsApp before they were officially communicated. Aif\u00e1n had denounced that same employee seven more times before he was transferred to another court. Aif\u00e1n has had to denounce other employees up to 20 or 30 times, but the result is usually the same: nothing happens.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ESomething different occurs with complaints filed against Judge Aif\u00e1n, who since 2016 has led the capital\u2019s highest-risk D court. She has been denounced some twenty times and there have been occasions in which the complaint has succeeded to the point of sanctioning her with a fine and opening a criminal case. In the latter case, the Third Chamber of the Court of Appeals filed the complaint because Aif\u00e1n allegedly spoke to journalists to damage the Chamber\u2019s image. The complaint is implausible, since Aif\u00e1n is not quoted in the article even once. The article in question deals with a lawsuit the judge brought against the Third Chamber, in which the Constitutional Court ruled in her favor. Because of this newspaper article, as a type of revenge, the Chamber had an investigation opened, which could end up putting her in jail. Through March 2021, Aif\u00e1n has racked up 22 complaints against her, filed by court employees, individual lawyers, and even judges.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWhat is happening with Aif\u00e1n and her court describes what Guatemala is fighting these days: another battle for control over its courts and justice system. The courts are the arena where claims intersect like pieces on a chessboard where the players aren\u2019t always clear. Lawyers against judges, judges against lawyers, lawyers against lawyers, prosecutors against judges.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\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=1333&ImageId=36050\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Judge Erika Aif\u00e1n in her office at Guatemala City\u2019s Palace of Justice during an interview with El Faro on June 11, 2021. Aif\u00e1n is a high-risk judge, and she monitors corruption and organized crime cases. She has protective measures issued by the IACHR because of the threats she has faced since 2006, when she was assigned to the city of Jutiapa, one of the most dangerous in the country. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\" \/\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\"\u003EJudge Erika Aif\u00e1n in her office at Guatemala City\u2019s Palace of Justice during an interview with El Faro on June 11, 2021. Aif\u00e1n is a high-risk judge, and she monitors corruption and organized crime cases. She has protective measures issued by the IACHR because of the threats she has faced since 2006, when she was assigned to the city of Jutiapa, one of the most dangerous in the country. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\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\"\u003EJudge Aif\u00e1n and other justice officials such as the Human Rights Ombudsperson (PDH) maintain that this is a period of harassment against those who have demonstrated independence and responsibility in exercising their office. With almost 20 years of experience, Aif\u00e1n has received death threats on numerous occasions. Over the last four years, during which time she has been at the helm of a high-risk court, she has had to judge high-impact cases, many of them brought by the CICIG. For example, she presided over the Odebrecht case and another bribery case in which businessowners acknowledged that they paid Ministry of Communications officials; and the so-called \u201cParallel Commissions\u201d case, which showed that judges and magistrates were peddling influence to appoint judges and magistrates to the courts. In addition to the threats, Aif\u00e1n\u2019s court has been infiltrated, she and her family have been monitored, smear campaigns have been mounted on social networks, and photographs have been taken of her abroad.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe danger she faces is such that in October 2019 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) ordered the State of Guatemala to guarantee her safety and granted protective measures to her and other judges. \u201cThe IACHR concludes that the existence of a situation of grave risk, in regard to Mrs. Aif\u00e1n\u2019s rights to life and personal safety, is sufficiently proven,\u201d the Commission said when it granted the measures.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ENot only is there harassment against judges but also against those who investigated and dismantled complex and powerful criminal networks that are entrenched in the State. Among them: head of the Special Prosecutor\u2019s Office Against Impunity (FECI), Juan Francisco Sandoval; former tax superintendent, Juan Sol\u00f3rzano Foppa; and former crime analysts who investigated important corruption cases, especially since 2015, which could be considered the golden age of the now-defunct International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), the United Nations-backed anti-mafia commission that operated between 2007 and 2019.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAif\u00e1n says that the harassment against her has intensified since 2018. Actions against her, she asserts, began to appear more structured. A single lawyer, Rodrigo De la Pe\u00f1a, has denounced her before the disciplinary system, and has also filed injunctions and personal exhibits for decisions she has made, without being a party in any of the proceedings conducted by Aif\u00e1n. And just like her, there are more magistrates under attack: in 2020, the United Nation Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights recorded acts of intimidation and reprisals against four judges with jurisdiction in high-risk cases, six Constitutional Court magistrates, three Supreme Court of Justice magistrates, and three members of Special Prosecutor\u2019s Office against Impunity,\u201d a\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/undocs.org\/es\/A\/HRC\/46\/74\"\u003E February 2021 report\u003C\/a\u003E says.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn March, the US Department of State awarded Aif\u00e1n the \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.facebook.com\/watch\/?v=264111025174604\"\u003E\u201cWoman of Courage\u201d\u003C\/a\u003E prize. The United States has its sights set on Guatemala and has announced the \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/202106\/centroamerica\/25534\/Estados-Unidos-se-acerca-a-Guatemala-mientras-el-pa%C3%ADs-retrocede-en-la-lucha-anticorrupci%C3%B3n.htm\"\u003Ecreation of an anti-corruption task force that will begin to work hand in hand with Guatemalan prosecutors\u003C\/a\u003E. It is a bid to fill the vacuum left by the CICIG when former president Jimmy Morales expelled it in September 2019, and part of the Biden administration\u2019s shift away from the Donald Trump era and its focus on Central America\u2019s Northern Triangle.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\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=1333&ImageId=36051\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"On June 5, 2021, a day before U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris\u2019s visit to Guatemala, a group of citizens protested against President Alejandro Giammettei, who took office in January 2020. \u201cKamala, they\u2019re lying to you\u201d was a slogan of the protest. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\" \/\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\"\u003EOn June 5, 2021, a day before U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris\u2019s visit to Guatemala, a group of citizens protested against President Alejandro Giammettei, who took office in January 2020. \u201cKamala, they\u2019re lying to you\u201d was a slogan of the protest. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\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\"\u003EThe context is complicated. \u201cOrganized crime structures want to retake control of the courts,\u201d explains Oswaldo Samayoa, an attorney, professor, and human rights defender. The verb that he uses to describe the action of the mafia is \u201cretake,\u201d and he does so for good reason: when the CICIG started operating in 2007, it began to clean up the justice system, and 12 years later, following its departure, the system is going back toward lack of transparency.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn its first three years, the CICIG brought charges against two attorneys general, two general-directors of the Police, five Supreme Court magistrates, and some twenty court of appeals magistrates. And it managed to remove all of them. Only then was the justice system able to prosecute cases that, since the end of the civil war in 1996, had been lost causes. For example, for the first time it prosecuted a former president of the Republic, Alfonso Portillo, on corruption charges, and brought another six high-impact cases that confirmed what, until then, could only be considered an open secret: that Guatemala was co-opted by organized crime. By 2019, the CICIG had prosecuted three presidents (two of whom were in office), filed 100 petitions to impeach corrupt officials, dismantled nearly 70 criminal structures that were entrenched in the state, and prosecuted 120 high-impact cases, in which it obtained convictions against ministers, representatives, mayors, and business owners. Although no president has been found guilty yet, the CICIG raised the bar on the concept of justice up to that point.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBut the \u201cGuatemalan spring,\u201d as this golden age of the anti-corruption struggle has been called \u2014 an allusion to the protest movements that emerged in a dozen Arab countries, starting in 2010 \u2014 began to languish with President Jimmy Morales\u2019s arrival in 2016. Very soon, \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/201509\/internacionales\/17361\/Una-Guatemala-resignada-opta-por-saltar-al-vac%C3%ADo.htm\"\u003EMorales was accompanied by military advisors\u003C\/a\u003E who, after the war, had set up structures that they put in the service of criminal networks or political parties to benefit from state business. By January 2017, the president\u2019s brother and son were prosecuted by the CICIG for obtaining irregular contracts with the State. \u201cThat was the moment in which he began to want to expel the CICIG,\u201d Samayoa explains. Morales, who had promised during his campaign to support the CICIG and promote its permanence in Guatemala, became its chief harasser. \u201cHis deputies in Congress and his advisers surely took advantage of the moment to convince him to expel the CICIG,\u201d Samayoa adds. September 3, 2019 was the Commission\u2019s last day of work in Guatemala.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ESince then, a type of revenge has been hovering over those who participated in that spring. As Sol\u00f3rzano Foppa explained on Thursday, June 10, during a recess from the court hearing where he was being prosecuted for electoral crimes: \u201cToday the pendulum has swung in the other direction.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ESol\u00f3rzano Foppa, 37, and An\u00edbal Arg\u00fcello, a 31-year-old former CICIG analyst, were arrested on May 19 for allegedly violating electoral law when they attempted to form a political party in 2020. On June 10, a judge decided that two of the three crimes for which they had been arrested \u2014 the most serious being illicit association and conspiracy \u2014 were annulled for lack of merit. The judge left them to be tried for only one crime, the falsification of documents, because they must clear up some irregularities detected in the public deed that they used to try to register the political party.\u00a0Among the irregularities to be clarified is the fact a deceased person appears among the signatories who endorsed the party\u2019s formation, and that other signatories confirm that they never attended a meeting to create the party.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\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=1333&ImageId=36052\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Juan Francisco Sol\u00f3rzano Foppa (center) and An\u00edbal Arg\u00fcello (left), during the legal proceedings in which they were prosecuted for three electoral crimes on June 10, 2021, at Torre de Tribunales. That day, the judge ruled that two of the three crimes for which they were arrested were null for lack of merit. Along with them, several environmentalists who also wanted to form the political party were arrested. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\" \/\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\"\u003EJuan Francisco Sol\u00f3rzano Foppa (center) and An\u00edbal Arg\u00fcello (left), during the legal proceedings in which they were prosecuted for three electoral crimes on June 10, 2021, at Torre de Tribunales. That day, the judge ruled that two of the three crimes for which they were arrested were null for lack of merit. Along with them, several environmentalists who also wanted to form the political party were arrested. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\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\"\u003EFoppa affirms that he is willing to have the anomalies in the document he submitted to the electoral tribunal investigated, but he believes that it is disproportionate that they have arrested him and tried to prosecute him for illicit association when they were attempting to form a party. \u201cIt is a selective and disproportionate criminal prosecution, the Public Prosecutor's Office is being instrumentalized by organized crime as revenge for my work in the fight against corruption,\u201d Arg\u00fcello said in his statement before a judge on June 3.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOther parties that submitted documents with the same type of irregularities are not being investigated. The Electoral Crimes Prosecutor has only filed criminal charges against Foppa, Arg\u00fcello, and company. Meanwhile, it has been soft on more serious cases: for example, it asked for opportunity criteria (that is, akin to a plea bargain, eliminating the punishment in exchange for cooperation) for five large businessowners accused of illicitly financing the campaign of former president Jimmy Morales, to whom they surreptitiously gave a million dollars in 2015. Another serious case is that of the Valor Party of Efra\u00edn R\u00edos Montt\u2019s daughter and political heir: she and her party submitted a document with 12,000 false signatures, as the Supreme Electoral Tribunal revealed in February 2015, but the head of the Electoral Crimes Prosecutor\u2019s Office, Rafael Curruchiche, never prosecuted the case.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EFoppa and Arg\u00fcello were the architects of the investigations that caused a political earthquake in the country, especially starting in 2015, when they formally charged then-President Otto P\u00e9rez, Vice President Roxana Baldetti, and several ministers and businesspeople, for their role in a customs embezzlement scheme known as \u201cLa L\u00ednea [the Line].\u201d Foppa and Arg\u00fcello both worked for the Public Prosecutor\u2019s Office, the former as the director of Crime Analysis, and the latter as a crime analyst. Shortly thereafter, Arg\u00fcello was promoted to coordinator of the team that worked hand in hand with the CICIG. In August 2015, he was called on to join that international body. There, with Foppa at the head, they investigated more criminal structures just as the Guatemalan Spring was getting underway.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn 2016, Foppa was appointed director of the Superintendency of Tax Administration (SAT) and removed abruptly after two years in office in January 2018 under President Morales\u2019s administration. The rationale for dismissing him was weak, at best: in 2017, the SAT fell 0.3 percent short of meeting its annual collection goal, although it set an all-time record. In 2016, the SAT had not only met the tax collection goal, for the first time in its 18-year history, but surpassed it. Foppa collected for the State million-dollar debts from large corporations that had resisted paying their taxes for years, including Aceros de Guatemala, a mega-company that had to pay a fine of 100 million dollars.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBetween 2017 and 2019, Jimmy Morales and the State of Guatemala maneuvered to stifle the CICIG. The move came down hard on Iv\u00e1n Vel\u00e1squez, the CICIG commissioner when, in September 2018, Morales \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/201809\/centroamerica\/22457\/Gobierno-de-Guatemala-desobedece-mandato-judicial-y-no-permitir%C3%A1-el-regreso-de-Iv%C3%A1n-Vel%C3%A1squez.htm\"\u003Edeclared him \u201cpersona non grata\u201d\u003C\/a\u003E and Vel\u00e1squez took advantage of a business trip in the United States to stay and wait for things to calm down. He was no longer allowed to return to Guatemala as the government prohibited his entry. A month later, in October 2018, another 11 CICIG investigators had been barred from entering national territory.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe Commission shut down in September 2019 and human rights defenders at the time were concerned that the Public Prosecutor's Office could begin to press charges against those who had worked on the CICIG\u2019s cases and their allies in civil society. The arrests of Foppa and Arg\u00fcello were the first important captures.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\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=1333&ImageId=36053\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"An\u00edbal Arg\u00fcello, during the hearing at Guatemala\u2019s Palace of Justice on Thursday, June 10, 2021. Arg\u00fcello, 31, is a former CICIG analyst who investigated major corruption networks, among them, La L\u00ednea, which was the investigation that forced Otto P\u00e9rez Molina and Roxana Baldetti, the officials who had been elected in 2012, to resign. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\" \/\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\"\u003EAn\u00edbal Arg\u00fcello, during the hearing at Guatemala\u2019s Palace of Justice on Thursday, June 10, 2021. Arg\u00fcello, 31, is a former CICIG analyst who investigated major corruption networks, among them, La L\u00ednea, which was the investigation that forced Otto P\u00e9rez Molina and Roxana Baldetti, the officials who had been elected in 2012, to resign. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\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\"\u003EFoppa\u2019s arrest, while legal, has irregular elements, according to the judge who released him provisionally on June 10. \"The previous police procedure, that is to say, the moment of detainment, when a vehicle stopped in front and pulled him over, while the patrol car was arriving, denotes a certain irregularity,\" the judge said. \"Logically, some irregularities can be inferred.\" In this regard, another judge who heard the case at an earlier stage ordered the Prosecutor's Office to investigate who these unidentified persons, in a vehicle that was also unidentified, were. Three Supreme Court of Justice judges who heard the habeas corpus motion that Foppa filed in the wake of his arrest also mentioned that the Public Prosecutor\u2019s Office should at least investigate why the authorities used vehicles without license plates.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cThings happened that you only saw in the 1980s. We have gone back decades, as if the institutional reforms left by the 1996 Peace Accords had never happened,\u201d Samayoa says.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOn May 19, while Foppa was driving in the Guatemalan capital, he was blocked by a black, windows-tinted car without license plates and with bright blue and red lights. Those who got out of the car ordered Foppa to stop and pull over. Foppa obeyed, but he immediately began to record video with his cell phone. The video shows the vehicle without license plates parked in front of Foppa's vehicle, blocking any movement. Four police officers, who arrived at the scene in a patrol car, are visible. One also observes that one of the uniformed police officers asks for Foppa\u2019s identification and communicates with the base to ask for his background. Several minutes go by and in the video Foppa is seen getting into his car and trying to leave. \u201cI told the Police officers that if they were not able to tell me the reason for my arrest that I was going to continue on my way,\u201d Foppa said in the first deposition hearing on May 27, a week after his arrest. The video shows that the car without license plates backed up to continue blocking his exit. Foppa got out of his vehicle and walked toward the tinted car, which kept its engine running, the passengers inside remaining out of view. They neither got out of the car nor rolled down the window, despite Foppa knocking on the glass insistently. Minutes later, they arrested Foppa.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe arrest was coordinated by the Public Prosecutor\u2019s Office, which had obtained a judge\u2019s permission, but that does not explain the mysterious vehicle\u2019s participation. This vehicle had been following Foppa since before 7 o\u2019clock in the morning, and one of its crew members had called a police officer\u2019s cell phone to inform him that Foppa was driving a red Nissan Qashqai and would be passing by certain streets. That call occurred at 7:15 a.m. according to a\u00a0 Police report submitted to the Supreme Court of Justice. On May 27, during the first deposition hearing, Foppa pointed out this irregularity: \u201cI was stopped by a vehicle without license plates, with people that, to this day, I have no idea who they are. What's next? Prosecutors with balaclavas? Faceless judges? Defense lawyers whose identities we don\u2019t know? Are we in the 1980s, your Honor, when there was the famous white panel [van], without license plates, that took people away and they never reappeared?\"\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=1333&ImageId=36054\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Gaspar Cojtin Tuy, 65, came from Solol\u00e1 to demonstrate in favor of former Financial Administration Superintendent, Juan Francisco Sol\u00f3rzano Foppa, arrested for trying to form a political party and allegedly violating Guatemala\u2019s electoral law. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\" \/\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\"\u003EGaspar Cojtin Tuy, 65, came from Solol\u00e1 to demonstrate in favor of former Financial Administration Superintendent, Juan Francisco Sol\u00f3rzano Foppa, arrested for trying to form a political party and allegedly violating Guatemala\u2019s electoral law. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\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\"\u003EThe written report, given to the Supreme Court by police officer Inmer Fuentes days after the arrest, says that the crew members from the tinted car were members of the General Civil Intelligence Directorate\u00a0 (DIGICI), a unit of the Ministry of the Interior. Minutes before the arrest, a person named Cristofer Estrada called officer Fuentes. Days later, the Interior explained that DIGICI had collaborated with the Police and Public Prosecutor\u2019s Office and that this was standard procedure.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EProsecutor Sandoval: \u201cThese are different times at the Public Prosecutor\u2019s Office\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe Special Prosecutor\u2019s Office Against Impunity (FECI), created over a decade ago to work closely with the international commission, now carries part of CICIG\u2019s legacy. Its director, prosecutor Juan Francisco Sandoval, has become a referent in the fight against corruption. He is an \u201canti-corruption champion,\u201d as the \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.state.gov\/dipnote-u-s-department-of-state-official-blog\/recognizing-anticorruption-champions-around-the-world\/\"\u003EState Department\u2019s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) said this past February 23\u003C\/a\u003E. Sandoval is still trying to win the battle against Guatemala\u2019s corrupt in the courts, where there are about 100 cases that the CICIG investigated. But without the CICIG, Sandoval says the work is more complicated. \u201cCICIG gave us great support, from the logistic to the political. If we were accusing politicians with power, someone had to give us a sort of cover, and the CICIG did that. Now, we don\u2019t have that.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe FECI did not disappear after the CICIG\u2019s expulsion because Attorney General Consuelo Porras signed accord 59-2019, through which that unit became a section of the Public Prosecutor\u2019s office. \u201cThat was partly because of pressure from the international community, above all, from the United States,\u201d lawyer Samayoa says.\u00a0\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ESandoval, like the other justice officials, is the victim of judicial harassment. He has 55 lawsuits against him, a third of which were lodged by a retired military officer\u2019s foundation, Foundation Against Terrorism, that used to criticize the CICIG for allegedly \u201chandpicking\u201d cases to investigate. The last of these complaints arrived last week and was for something as trivial as having met with the diplomatic corps. They rebuke Sandoval because, supposedly, that is not one of his functions. \u201cThey are cases that could well be dismissed for lack of merit, but to the contrary, they remain open at the Public Prosecutor\u2019s Office. I always say that they are violating the principle of legality,\u201d Sandoval says.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ESubtly, Sandoval recognizes that the attorney general and the FECI are in trouble. \u201cThese are difficult, different times for the AG. The CICIG isn\u2019t here, but the Public Prosecutor\u2019s Office has taken a lot of effort to match that logistical effort,\u201d he says.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWhen the CICIG left Guatemala in 2019, around 60 Guatemalan investigators were left unemployed. Attorney General Consuelo Porras had insinuated that she would absorb the CICIG personnel to strengthen the Public Prosecutor's Office, but this has not occurred, although FECI recruited another type of personnel. At the helm of the DAC, the unit that Foppa once directed, Porras installed a relative of hers (her niece\u2019s husband), although in August 2019 she defended the appointment, saying that he met the position\u2019s profile.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\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=1333&ImageId=36055\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Juan Francisco Sandoval, chief of the Special Prosecutor\u2019s Office Against Impunity (FECI), worked very closely with the UN-backed anti-mafia commission. With the commission\u2019s departure, Sandoval and his team took up the defense of all the corruption cases that it investigated along with the CICIG. Sandoval has also been the victim of persecution, threats, and cyber-harassment because of the crimes prosecuted by the office he directs. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\" \/\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\"\u003EJuan Francisco Sandoval, chief of the Special Prosecutor\u2019s Office Against Impunity (FECI), worked very closely with the UN-backed anti-mafia commission. With the commission\u2019s departure, Sandoval and his team took up the defense of all the corruption cases that it investigated along with the CICIG. Sandoval has also been the victim of persecution, threats, and cyber-harassment because of the crimes prosecuted by the office he directs. Photo: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\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\"\u003EOn June 2, days before US Vice President Kamala Harris\u2019s visit to Guatemala, President Alejandro Giammattei said in an interview with Reuters that it seemed to him that FECI\u2019s work was partial, biased, and motivated by political ideology. Giammattei later issued a statement saying that his words had been taken out of context, but Sandoval is cautious. \u201cWhile the President\u2019s Office has cooperated when we have required information to investigate, one day the president of the Republic made a comment, very respectable, but ultimately it reflects how he feels about the work of the Public Prosecutor\u2019s Office. I am not going to overstate it. If the intention is to get me to say something to provoke a confrontation that later obligates me to recuse myself from some issue, he isn\u2019t going succeed, because my work does not target one particular person,\u201d he said.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ESandoval affirms that the fact that Kamala Harris explicitly mentioned her support for the FECI during her visit to Guatemala was something important. \u201cIt was a big endorsement,\u201d says Sandoval.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EMeanwhile, in January 2020 the Guatemalan Congress created a commission to investigate alleged anomalies committed by the CICIG and the AG, and there are representatives who always take advantage of their public interventions to attack the FECI. When Sandoval is asked to provide the first and last names of those shady characters who are promoting impunity, the prosecutor again responds diplomatically.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cWho are the figures promoting the persecution against you?\u201d I asked him on June 11, in his office at the Public Prosecutor\u2019s Office.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cIf our work is dismantling illegal organizations, from power structures entrenched in the State with the ability to generate impunity, one has to see who has had power or who has been able to generate impunity through judicial activities, legal reforms.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cIs there a parallel power?\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cJust look at the name of the cases under investigation. \u2018Parallel commissions\u2019 \u2014 that means that there is a formal commission and something parallel. That\u2019s how it is in everything. There are always parallel structures of impunity in the cases that we investigate, which try to push\u00a0 so that they do not become public knowledge.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cIn a \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/201809\/centroamerica\/22427\/Fiscal-contra-la-Impunidad-%E2%80%9CSi-la-CICIG-se-va-volvemos-a-lo-de-antes%E2%80%9D.htm\"\u003Eprevious interview, you told us that if the CICIG left, Guatemala would go back to the way it was before\u003C\/a\u003E. Did that prediction come true?\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cMore than what I say, what the media publishes can be a barometer for what is occurring in society.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ESandoval says that it is not time to throw in the towel, partly because he has not noticed an increase in the threats and harassment against him; rather they have stayed at the same level for some years. This makes him think constantly of putting into motion a plan B, although he says that he tries not to give it too much thought. \u201cFor now, we have to continue as far as we are allowed,\u201d he says. He believes that, in the near future, they will try to get him out of the way. \u201cMy removal will not be through physical elimination, but through different ways. Getting me out of the way, arrested, I think that could be it, or through publicly discrediting me.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAccording to the Human Rights Ombudsperson, Jord\u00e1n Rodas, Guatemala is going through a period of regression. \u201cI thought we had hit bottom with Jimmy Morales, but no, Guatemala resembles an underground parking lot where there is always a basement underneath. We haven\u2019t reached rock bottom yet,\u201d he says.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ETo describe the setback, Rodas explains that, among its magistrates, the Judiciary has appointed officials accused of peddling their influence in the selection of judges, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal has appointed as president someone with an irregular academic title, Attorney General Porras has not shown real support for FECI\u2019s work, and since October 2019, Congress has disobeyed a constitutional order to designate new magistrates for the high courts, according to the criteria of probity and transparency.\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\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=1333&ImageId=36056\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Jord\u00e1n Rodas, Guatemala\u2019s Human Rights Ombudsperson, during an interview with the newspaper El Faro. Guatemala City, September 3, 2018. Photo: Victor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\" \/\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\"\u003EJord\u00e1n Rodas, Guatemala\u2019s Human Rights Ombudsperson, during an interview with the newspaper El Faro. Guatemala City, September 3, 2018. Photo: Victor Pe\u00f1a\/El Faro\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\"\u003EFor Rodas, there\u2019s no doubt that another CICIG is needed. \u201cThe CICIG\u2019s presence strengthened the justice system\u2019s fragility. Many of us were emboldened. Today, amidst all the bad, there\u2019s hope in the international community. The United States already realized that there is no chance of cooperation if there is corruption; and if there is corruption, there will be more migration.\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ERodas has been a staunch defender of the CICIG and other judicial officers like Judge Erika Aif\u00e1n. Rodas, for example, was the one who ensured that the CICIG\u2019s mandate was not terminated abruptly at the start of 2019. In addition, he filed an appeal on August 31, 2019, when the Supreme Court attempted to take away Judge Aif\u00e1n\u2019s armored vehicle. Last May, Rodas also lodged a criminal complaint against Congress for embezzlement (misappropriation of funds), because a journalistic report revealed that a troll center had been set up in that institution to attack him and some other deputies.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ERodas points out that President Giammattei is leaving much to be desired. \u201cI have not found him to be a good partner. Unfortunately, he doesn\u2019t have a human rights perspective and that shows in public policies. Institutionally, there isn\u2019t an attitude of respecting human rights,\u201d he says.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOn November 21, 2020, facing the approval of the State\u2019s Budget in Congress, hundreds of people went out to protest the unequal distribution of state funding. Among the cuts were the budgets for the Human Rights Office, the public university, the judiciary, and malnutrition programs. The protests ended with dozens injured and the congressional building set on fire. The vice president of Guatemala, Guillermo Castillo, suggested that Giammattei resign and, although the budget was not approved in the end, there were mass arrests and the police crackdown led to two people losing an eye. Rodas recommended that the Minister of the Interior, who oversees the National Civil Police, be removed. He was not.\u00a0\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ERodas will finish his term next year. He does not plan to seek reelection. \u201cIt is evident that I will not have support in Congress. A substantial number of deputies would prefer a \u2018soft\u2019 ombudsman, who doesn\u2019t rock the boat. A dolt [Un perejil].\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E*Translated by Jessica Kirstein\u003C\/p\u003E"}