US pauses cooperation with Guatemala AG after ouster of anti-corruption chief
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US pauses cooperation with Guatemala AG after ouster of anti-corruption chief

A spokesperson for the US State Department announced on Tuesday that the US would be “temporarily pausing” cooperation with Guatemala’s Public Ministry, the department responsible for criminal prosecution.

The pause comes as a response to the decision on July 23 by Consuelo Porras, Guatemala’s Attorney General, to remove Juan Francisco Sandoval as head of the Office of Special Prosecutor Against Impunity (FECI), which tackles corruption. The removal led hundreds to protest the move outside the Presidential Palace as Sandoval himself left the country after what he called his “illegal dismissal.” Sandoval claims that the attorney general asked that his office seek her opinion on any case involving the government.

Principal deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter emphasized on Tuesday that the US has made clear to Guatemala that “the fight against corruption is essential” to relations between the two nations, and that Sandoval’s removal “fits a pattern of behavior that indicates a lack of commitment to the rule of law and independent judicial and prosecutorial processes.” During the pause in cooperation, Porter said that the US would be reviewing its assistance to the attorney general’s activities and would be “watching closely for additional actions that would undermine the rule of law or judicial independence.”