Jun 3, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Guatemala corruption in focus before Harris visit

A protest in December against budget cuts and Congress members accused of corruption, in Guatemala City.
A protest in December against budget cuts and Congress members accused of corruption, in Guatemala City. Photo: Josué Decavele/Getty Images

As Vice President Kamala Harris prepares for her first foreign trip, the country that will welcome her has become mired in debates over corruption.

Driving the news: The country's Congress just confirmed judges who are under investigation to the Constitutional Court and President Alejando Giammattei criticized members of the country’s special prosecutor who oversees corruption cases yesterday.

Why it matters: The controversies show the pervasive nature of corruption in the region and the obstacles the White House faces as it attempts to address the root causes of emigration.

Details: Congress confirmed judges Néstor Vásquez and Dina Ochoa to the court that decides electoral, political and constitutional issues.

  • Both have been questioned in relation to a case in which brothers Gustavo and Felipe Alejos allegedly bribed members of Congress and judicial bodies to name favorable judges. The brothers were recently sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department.
  • Yet the same Congress rejected a nominee in April, arguing she was under investigation. Gloria Porras, a renowned anti-corruption magistrate, is being sued for purported “judicial activism.”

What’s next: Harris arrives in Guatemala on Sunday, then flies to Mexico, where she will meet President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Tuesday.

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