LatinNews Daily - 22 January 2024

US congratulates Guatemala’s Arévalo

Guatemala: On 15 January officials from the US government led by President Joe Biden congratulated Guatemala’s President Bernardo Arévalo and Vice President Karin Herrera on their inauguration. The US has been staunch in its support for Arévalo, who won the 20 August presidential elections on an anti-corruption platform but whose inauguration had been in doubt following multiple attempts to block him by the discredited attorney general’s office led by US-sanctioned María Consuelo Porras. In a press release US Secretary of State Antony Blinken commended Guatemalans “for advancing the cause of democracy under challenging circumstances” and stated that the US would collaborate with Arévalo on key issues of “economic prosperity, human rights, good governance, anti-corruption measures, and safe and orderly migration”. President Biden also released a statement in which he confirmed his commitment to “continuing the strong partnership between our nations”. In a further show of support for the new Arévalo administration in its fight against corruption, on 17 January the US State Department announced that it had designated Guatemala’s former president Alejandro Giammattei (2020-2024) “due to his involvement in significant corruption” making him ineligible for entry into the US. The State Department said it had “credible information” indicating that Giammattei accepted bribes in exchange for the performance of his public functions during his tenure as president. On the same day the US also sanctioned Guatemala’s former minister of energy & mining, Alberto Pimentel (2020-2023), for his involvement in bribery schemes. In another show of support, on 15 January the US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced the launch of a US$6m financial inclusion programme “to help rural Guatemalans overcome common financial access constraints”. The scheme is part of a wider investment programme under Biden aimed at addressing the root causes of irregular migration.

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