Guatemala has reappointed a criticized second-term attorney general

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GUATEMALA CITY – The Guatemalan president appointed the controversial attorney general to a second term on Monday in a move that has drawn criticism from many Guatemalan and foreign governments over his reluctance to investigate corruption.

President Alejandro Giamattei says Consuelo Porus deserves four more years in office.

“I am convinced that the Attorney General’s Office must be an independent body,” the president said in a statement.

“This is a sovereign decision,” he added, referring to the apparent pressure from international pressure.

Earlier Monday, Poras, 68, defended his record during his annual report. He said the office under his leadership had enforced the law of the land and sought justice for all without exception.

Poras was originally appointed in 2018 by then-President Jimmy Morales. This is the first time Guatemala has given its top prosecutor a second consecutive term.

In August 2019, more than a year after Porace’s appointment, Morales completed a UN anti-corruption mission while under investigation. Porus, at least publicly, did not back down in defense of the mission.

During his tenure, more than 20 prosecutors, judges and magistrates have gone into exile, fearing retribution for their actions in corruption cases against them.

Last year, he fired Juan Francisco Sandoval, who heads the Special Prosecutor’s Office against impunity, and who was praised for his work. He has fled the country.

The U.S. government has publicly protested, denouncing Porus as an undemocratic actor, undermining anti-corruption efforts, and withdrawing his visa. A State Department official said at the time that Sandoval’s removal “contributes to the realization that there is a systematic effort to weaken the fight against corruption in Guatemala.”

On Monday, Porus described his office’s work against corruption as a precedent-setting, but did not elaborate on how.

Poros has been a frequent target of street protests in recent months, expressing general dissatisfaction with the government and calling for his ouster.

Last month, Human Rights Watch said in a statement that Porus had “weakened the investigation into corruption and human rights abuses and brought arbitrary criminal charges against journalists, judges and prosecutors.”

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