Guatemalan President visits Ukraine and expresses solidarity
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei visited Ukraine on Monday and expressed solidarity with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Giammattei met Zelenskyy in the capital, Kyiv, becoming the first Latin American president to make the trip. Many Latin American leaders have avoided taking a position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This reflects in some cases decades-old ties to Russia and in others a distrust of US foreign policy goals. “We stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people, who resisted courageously,” Giammattei told a joint press conference. “As long as human lives are lost, we cannot silence our voices.” “Let it be clear that since the beginning of this conflict, Guatemala has raised its voice,” he said. ”We will always be consistent with our words. Guatemala does not and will not remain silent.
Zelenskyy thanked Giammattei for his support for sanctions against Russia and Guatemala’s support for an international tribunal on crimes committed during the war. The Ukrainian president noted that Latin America, like many other regions of the world, has suffered from rising prices due to fighting in Ukraine, which is a major producer of agricultural and other products. “Only together can we protect our world,” Zelenskyy said.
Critics of Giammattei’s government said the president had more pressing issues he should deal with at home, including corruption and human rights.
“The whole world knows how President Alejandro Giammattei erodes democracy and promotes impunity in his country. A trip to Ukraine will not change this reality,” said Carolina Jiménez, president of the Washington Office for Latin America.
The US government has strongly criticized the weakening of anti-corruption efforts in Guatemala and last year canceled the US visa of Guatemalan attorney general Consuelo Porras, who was prosecuting former prosecutors.
Instead of tackling corruption, the government took legal action against the former anti-corruption officials themselves, and more than 20 of them fled the country. Giammattei’s government and prosecutors have accelerated efforts begun by his predecessor to quash a UN-backed anti-corruption campaign that put several senior officials, including former presidents, behind bars. They say these prosecutions themselves were improper.
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