FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 17th, 2023
Emily Becker, 202-740-8072
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, Senator Peter Welch (D-VT) joined Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in urging the State Department to hold Guatemalan officials accountable for corruption and update its approach in Guatemala to better align longstanding U.S. values and interests. Specifically, the letter asks the Administration to continue to deny visas to and freeze economic assets and holdings in the U.S. of Guatemalan officials and private citizens who have engaged in acts of corruption, human rights violations, or acts that have undermined democratic processes or institutions.
“The continuing deterioration of democracy and the rule of law in Guatemala is deeply concerning. Efforts by President Giammattei and his government to harass and persecute government officials, members of the press, and civil society organizations represent an alarming pattern of targeting individuals seeking to root out Guatemala’s rampant corruption…the administration’s overall response to these attacks against democracy and the rule of law as a whole have been insufficient in pushing back on the harm caused by the Guatemalan government’s actions,” wrote the senators in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“We urge you to make clear that the U.S.-Guatemala relationship must remain grounded in a mutual and unwavering commitment to protecting democracy and democratic institutions—without exception,” the letter continued.
The senators also underscored how corruption and deteriorating rule of law in Guatemala threatens to undermine U.S. efforts to address the root causes of migration and drug trafficking, writing, “So long as top Guatemalan officials are involved in corruption and efforts to undermine the rule of law and state institutions, criminality, narcotrafficking and instability will only increase. Consequently, the United States will be unable to build a productive partnership with the Guatemalan government to effectively address the root causes of migration from the country.”
Full text of the letter is available here.