May 31, 2023

East Valley Times

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Pedro warns of consequences for diplomatic relations | Tensions between Colombia and Guatemala over indictment of current Colombian minister

The Guatemalan Public Ministry initiated legal proceedings against the Colombian Minister of Defense, Iván Velázquez, for his actions while he was in charge of the International Commission Against Impunity (CIC) in Guatemala, which disrupted relations between the two countries: they invited their ambassadors for consultation. .

Guatemalan prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche accused the Colombian of irregularly approving a “protected witness” agreement granted to three executives of the Brazilian multinational construction giant Odebrecht. In 2017, during a bribery investigation.

Colombian President Gustavo Pedro’s reaction was not long in coming: He warned that the relationship would be damaged if the Central American country’s prosecutor’s office insisted on taking action against Velázquez, while Guatemalan President Alejandro Giamatte, for sanity, said it was not a “criminal case”.

An investigator against Odebrecht

Ivan Velázquez, born in Colombia 67 years ago, was the head of Cicig in Guatemala between 2013 and 2017, leading a historic fight against corruption that saw the dismantling of dozens of illegal structures operating within government agencies.

According to President Joe Biden’s government, because he made up false cases to press charges, lawyer Karruchic had his visa revoked and was barred from entering its territory until 2022.

Speaking from the Davos forum in Switzerland, President Pedro spoke about his minister on Tuesday: “We will protect him and he will continue to be our minister. Guatemala It insists on arresting only men, as we have no connection with Guatemala.

Referring to the charges against Velásquez, Petro Asserting that “criminals are reacting”, he added that his government will not allow his minister to indulge in illegal activities. “We’re not going to allow that, we think he (Velasquez) has to make contact with a position. United NationsFrankly, honestly, you will be attacked for what you have done, persecuted for your fight against impunity, cornered by those who exploit that impunity”.

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Complaint of harassment

Referring to Velásquez’s performance as leader of Cicig, The Colombian President said in Zurich, “To all those who fight against corruption, to all those who play a leading role in destroying the impunity that dominates and dominates the Republic of Guatemala, Well, now he is tormented by that kind of passion he touched”.

The Guatemalan president appealed for “democratic institutions, the rule of law and the separation of powers.”

According to Guatemalan opposition lawmaker Samuel Pérez, the process that could be launched against the Colombian minister is a “revenge” for his role in the fight against corruption: “Revenge with frenzy now that the ruling people have been investigated for corruption.” The US government also attacked Guatemalan officials And said what the public ministry did undermines “confidence in the rule of law and the Guatemalan justice system.” According to Brian Nichols, the State Department’s undersecretary for Latin America, “We are concerned about the arrest warrants issued by the Guatemalan Ministry of Public Affairs against individuals who warrant accountability for corruption in the Ottbrecht case in Guatemala.”

Guatemala’s president doubled down on the bet: “I’m going to let President Pedro continue to make a guerilla mistake, but it’s not very political. I will not fall for the game. Differences between countries must be resolved diplomatically to prevent conflicts from escalating to places that are already difficult to escape.”