United States House of Representatives
Republican members of the House of Representatives applaud as former US House speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks before a third vote to elect a new speaker on October 20, 2023 ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP

The U.S. State Department has banned former Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei from entering the country, accusing him of "significant corruption." The move comes three days after Giammattei left office.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement Wednesday that the department has "credible information indicating that Giammattei accepted bribes in exchange for the performance of his public functions during his tenure as president of Guatemala, actions that undermined the rule of law and government transparency."

"The United States has made clear that it stands with Guatemalans who seek accountability for corrupt actors," he further said.

Miller pointed out that in the last three years, the United States government took steps such as imposing visa restrictions or sanctions on nearly 400 Guatemalans, including public officials, private sector representatives, and their family members for engaging in corrupt activities or undermining democracy or the rule of law in the Latin American country.

"Corruption weakens the rule of law and democratic institutions, enables impunity, fuels irregular migration, hampers economic prosperity, and curtails the ability of governments to respond effectively to their people's needs," he said.

"The United States remains committed to strengthening transparency and governance in Guatemala and throughout the Western Hemisphere and we will continue to use all available tools to promote accountability for those who undermine it," Miller added.

Besides the former president, the United States has also barred his daughter Ana Marcela Dinorah Giammattei Caceres, his sons Alejandro Eduardo Giammattei Caceres and Stefano Giammattei Caceres from entering the country under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act 2023.

Giammattei had numerous public legal corruption-related complaints filed against him during his tenure, especially around the opaque purchase of Russian COVID-19 vaccines.

He has also been accused of taking bribes in exchange for supporting Russian companies. However, the former president has repeatedly turned down these allegations.

Bernardo Arévalo took over as president of Guatemala on Jan. 15 after winning the elections on Oct. 31 with an overwhelming margin.

Following his inauguration, he announced his Cabinet picks on the same day that had an even number of men and women — a first in the country's history.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.