Guatemala's President Alejandro Giammattei criticized the country's best-known graft prosecutor for what he said was a left-wing politicization of the fight against corruption, a view at odds with strong U.S. backing for his work.
Guatemala’s President appears at odds with Washington after criticizing a U.S. backed state prosecutor who he called biased.
This comes just before the two countries are set to meet next week.
Conservative Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on Tuesday criticized high-profile prosecutor and head of the country's anti-corruption team, Juan Francisco Sandoval.
Giammattei told Reuters exclusively that Judge Francisco Sandoval has allowed left-leaning politics to color his work.
"Any human being has the right to have an ideology, and others have to respect that ideology.
The problem is when you transfer that ideology to your actions and worse when you are in charge of justice, and when you consider that you must do justice from an ideological point of view.
Then there would be a conflict of interest because it would mean that whoever has a different ideology from me will be persecuted." Sandoval told Reuters in response that his work respects laws, not ideology.
In February, the U.S. State Department declared Sandoval an “anti-corruption champion” and last week, the U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala said Washington will continue to support Sandoval’s work.
Sandoval had previously prosecuted Giammaetti as former head of the prison system, when he was accused of orchestrating the executions of seven prisoners.
Although at odds over Sandoval, Giammattei expressed hope for his planned visit with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris next week.
Harris leads Washington’s efforts to reduce migration from Northern Triangle countries, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
She’s also deciding on how to allocate $4 billion of aid to the region.
Harris has said her focus is on “root causes” like corruption and creating jobs, while Giammattei points to drug trafficking as a reason people flee the country.
He said he would ask Harris to channel support through the World Food Program and the government, rather than through NGO’s.