Guatemala summons Colombia’s ambassador for consultations

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Guatemala summons Colombia’s ambassador for consultations

As part of the same investigation, arrest warrants have been issued for other individuals, including the country’s former attorney general. This is Thelma Aldana, who went into self-imposed exile in the US in 2019.

Guatemala’s diplomacy summoned the Colombian ambassador for consultations on Tuesday, a day after Colombia’s similar move, as the two countries’ counterclaims for the current Colombian Defense Minister, Ivan Velazquez, continue.

Guatemalan authorities on Monday accused Mr. Velasquez, the former head of the UN Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), of “illegal” actions.

Colombian President Gustavo Petros hastened to defend his minister and emphasized that he would not accept any “arrest warrant” for Mr. Velasquez.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Yamate countered speaking to Spanish news agency EFE on Tuesday that Ivan Velázquez was not facing “criminal prosecution”.

He is being investigated, “something very different from the criminal prosecution process,” Mr. Yamatei said. “It would be good if someone enlightened Mr. Petros about the difference,” the right-wing president added sarcastically.

For Mr. Yamatei, his Colombian counterpart “continues to make the mistakes of someone who is a rebel, not a politician.”

Mr. Petro, an economist and the first president in Colombia’s history to belong to the left, was in his youth a rebel of the former M-19 guerrilla group before becoming a social democrat.

Ivan Velasquez is accused of “illegal, arbitrary and abusive” actions in the context of his investigation into the corruption case of the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, a Guatemalan prosecutor announced yesterday Monday.

As part of the same investigation, arrest warrants have been issued for other individuals, including the country’s former attorney general. This is Thelma Aldana, who went into self-imposed exile in the US in 2019.

The scandal of Odebrecht, who has admitted to American justice that he distributed almost 800 million in bribes, especially in Latin America, to ensure the conclusion of contracts for the execution of public works, has swept the political scene in many states of the region.

Brian Nichols, the State Department’s official in charge of Latin America, noted on Twitter on Tuesday that he was “disturbed” by the arrest warrants “against individuals who worked to ensure that there was accountability for corruption in the Odebrecht case.”

Ivan Velázquez attracted international attention in 2015 when a CICIG-assisted investigation into customs fraud involving Guatemala’s then-president Otto Perez Molina (2012-2015) and his vice-president Roxana Valdetti led to his resignation, arrest and sentencing them to heavy prison terms.

Mr Velasquez said on Monday that he had not received any notification from the Guatemalan authorities and added that he had a “clear conscience” about the work he had done in that country.

RES-EMP

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