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LatinNews Daily - 02 August 2021

US suspends judicial cooperation with Guatemala

Guatemala: On 27 July the US government announced that it was “temporarily pausing programmatic cooperation” with Guatemala’s attorney general’s office (AG) while it “conducts a review of our assistance to activities the attorney general leads”. The announcement is linked to the 23 July decision by the AG head, María Consuelo Porras, to dismiss Juan Francisco Sandoval from his post as head of the AG’s special anti-corruption unit (Feci). In a 27 July US Department of State briefing, deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter said that this dismissal “fits a pattern of behaviour that indicates a lack of commitment to the rule of law and independent judicial and prosecutorial processes. As a result, we have lost confidence in the attorney general”. On 25 July US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted “We stand with the people of Guatemala and …Sandoval, whom I recognised this year with an Anticorruption Champion Award. His dismissal undermines the rule of law and strengthens the forces of impunity.”  In a series of tweets on 24 July Julie Chung, the US Department of State’s Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, described Sandoval’s sacking as “a significant setback to the rule of law”. The same day the US Agency for International Development (USAID) administrator, Samantha Power, who visited Guatemala in June, described it as “an outrageous move”, adding that “as I stressed in my visit last month, the independence of Feci is an essential test of Guatemala’s commitment to the rule of law.”

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