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The Other Americans: Guatemalan Public Prosecutor’s Office Rolls Back Corruption Cases



Guatemala is currently undergoing one of the most sustained rollbacks of anti-corruption efforts in the hemisphere. As the country’s public prosecutor’s office has sought to persecute former prosecutors, attorneys general, journalists, activists, and investigators associated with the struggle against corruption, officials who were accused of acts of corruption from years prior are being let off with impunity. 

“This consolidation of authoritarianism aims to restore an order that restores a state that is organized to guarantee the interests and privileges of a small elite.”

“It is the consolidation of authoritarianism,” Jorge Santos, member of the Guatemalan human rights organization UDEFEGUA, tells The Progressive. “This consolidation of authoritarianism aims to restore an order that restores a state that is organized to guarantee the interests and privileges of a small elite.”

One example is the case against Blanca Stalling, an ex-magistrate of the Guatemalan supreme court who was removed in 2017 after facing influence trafficking charges. In February 2017, she was arrested by the Guatemalan National Police while carrying a loaded handgun on the run to escape charges. The case was officially closed on July 5, and Stalling remains on the U.S. Department of State’s “Engel List” of corrupt and anti-democratic actors.

Guatemala’s special prosecutor’s office against impunity (FECI) did not appeal this decision. The office, which handles the prosecutions for cases of corruption, is currently headed by Rafael Curruchiche, a former prosecutor who is widely viewed as an ally of corruption. 

The FECI was originally headed by Juan Francisco Sandoval, but he was fired and forced into exile in July 2021. The Guatemalan public prosecutor’s office has argued that Sandoval was fired for “abuse of authority” and has sought to obtain his extradition from the United States to prosecute him. 

A source told the daily newspaper La Hora that, following the termination of the case against Stalling, the public prosecutor’s office will be filing charges against Sandoval for “supposed irregularities” in the case and to align with the defense of the former supreme court magistrate. 

The investigation into Stalling was coordinated by the U.N.-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) along with assistance from the public prosecutor’s office. This is not the only case against a Guatemalan official or business person to be closed. 

On July 6, former congressional representative and presidential candidate, Estuardo Galdámez, a far-right politician and former member of Guatemala’s elite special forces known as Kaibles, was conditionally released from prison to house arrest with a fine of 100,000 Quetzales, or nearly $13,000. Galdámez was arrested in December 2020 after being accused of requesting a bribe of five million Quetzales, or about $650,000, for the construction of a hospital in the poor northern town of Ixcan in the department of Quiché. 

A Guatemalan court also ended an agreement with the United States, Brazil, and other countries that made investigating bribery cases involving the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht easier to prosecute. Sandoval denounced the decision to end the agreement, tweeting that “the case will go unpunished.”

As the public prosecutor’s office and the courts ended anti-corruption efforts, the public prosecutor’s office laid off fourteen key prosecutors and others from their positions. Among them was Hilda Pineda, who had headed the human rights prosecutor’s office, which had overseen cases of crimes against humanity from the country’s thirty-six-year internal armed conflict. Two district prosecutors were also fired.

The failure for these high-profile cases to advance is a symptom of the larger deterioration of the rule of law in Guatemala. The arbitrary arrest and prosecution of prosecutors and investigators, the attacks on judges, the exile of other judges, journalists, and activists, and the overarching attacks by the Guatemalan government has had the effect of consolidating power around the biggest critics of anti-corruption efforts.  

“We are passing a moment where judicial independence is weakest,” Jordan Rodas, Guatemala’s outgoing human rights ombudsman, tells The Progressive. “An independent justice is not convenient. That is why these types of attacks come to undermine judicial independence, which has forced many justice operators to seek exile to safeguard their integrity.” 

The unrelenting effort to fully end the independence of the branches of government has constantly sought to remove one of the country’s few independent bodies: Guatemala’s human rights ombudsman (PDH). This has led to an effort of the far right to remove Jordan Rodas before he ends his term in August 2022. 

“There is an insistence on the part of these actors of the official alliance to give an example of power in dismissing the human rights ombudsman,” Santos says. “This is clearly a spurious and illegal action.”

Rodas has been celebrated for his work in defending various social movements in Guatemala, including the LGBTQ+ movement, the movement for justice for war crimes (his brother was among the 45,000 people disappeared in the thirty-six-year internal armed conflict), and various movements in defense of territory. He worked to defend the rights of every Guatemalan, including those who are incarcerated or accused of crimes. But since taking office in 2017, he has faced constant attempts to either discredit or attack him.

“There is someone looking out for human rights in Guatemala?” President Jimmy Morales asked after an anniversary event for the country’s national guard. But these attacks intensified after Morales expelled the CICIG in September 2017. 

In December 2019, Morales continued to criticize Rodas’s work during a speech in which he accused civil society organizations of being funded by “radicals,” and the PDH of “defending rapists.” Rodas responded on Twitter, saying “enough of the lies,” and that the human rights body “works for everyone.”

On June 2, the ruling party brought a vote to remove Rodas from his position in congress but failed to find sufficient votes. But these far-right politicians have continued to seek to remove Rodas from office, just months before he is set to end his term. 

“We are going to see you exiled or [in jail], you will see,” Raúl Falla, a far-right activist and lawyer for the Foundation Against Terrorism said to Rodas as he entered the hearing against Virginia Laparra, the local head of FECI in Quetzaltenango, who faces charges of abuse of power. 

The Guatemalan congress is currently in the process of selecting the candidates for Rodas’s successor. Given the current rollback of institutionality, the process has Rodas concerned. 

“There is a lot of risk that [PDH] will lose the status of an independent institution,” Rodas says. “Well, there is a very high possibility that someone who is anti-human rights will [be appointed to the office].” 

There are currently three candidates, but human rights defenders also remain concerned about the outcomes, especially as the frontrunner, José Alejandro Córdova Herrera, has faced investigation for his alleged involvement in a “parallel commissions” case, but the country’s constitutional court ruled that he could not be investigated for his alleged involvement in the graft.

“This is an enormous problem for Guatemalan society,” Santos says. “There is great concern about the effects that the restoration of this regime of impunity is already having on Guatemalan society.”

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North America

China Props Up Tehran With Major Oil Purchases




Iran sold China $38 billion in oil since Biden took office

Chinese president Xi Jinping / Getty Images

• September 27, 2022 2:25 pm

Iran has illicitly sold China $38 billion worth of oil since President Joe Biden took office and relaxed sanctions enforcement on Tehran. Revenue from the Chinese has kept Iran’s hardline regime afloat as it grapples with the largest outbreak of nationwide protests in years.

China “has proven to be the savior of Tehran by continuing to import millions of barrels of oil every single day,” according to newly released figures calculated by United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), an advocacy group that tracks Iran’s illicit oil trade. “Chinese imports have likely even exceeded the purchases made when the trade was not subject to U.S. sanctions.” Iran’s oil trade is heavily sanctioned by the United States as part of measures aimed at curbing the hardline regime’s revenue sources.

“It is widely acknowledged,” according to UANI, “that China is principally responsible for keeping the Iranian regime in business through oil purchases that have totaled $38 billion since President Joe Biden assumed office.” Entities found to be complicit in violating sanctions can face huge fines and be iced out of the U.S. financial system.

While the Biden administration has not nixed U.S. sanctions on Iran’s lucrative oil trade, it has eased its enforcement of these measures, according to experts tracking the situation. This has allowed Iran to export around 1,000,000 barrels of crude per day to Beijing amid a global supply crisis and enriched Tehran’s hardline regime at a time when its grip on power is more threatened than ever.

Protests have erupted across Iran since the regime’s morality police beat and killed a 22-year-old woman for not properly wearing her head covering, which is required under Iran’s theocratic legal system. Since her death, men and woman have taken to the streets across the country to express outrage at the regime’s human rights crimes, as well as its mismanagement of the country’s economy, which remains in shambles.

The Biden administration has offered tepid support for the anti-regime protests, but continues to walk a diplomatic tightrope as it engages in talks with the hardline government over a revamped version of the 2015 nuclear accord. These talks, and the lax enforcement of sanctions that have sent Iran’s oil revenues skyrocketing, is helping to keep the regime in power amid the protests.

“Protests are occurring all over Iran, some of the most serious in years,” UANI chief of staff Claire Jungman told the Washington Free Beacon. “Men and women are joining the demonstrations denouncing a regime they see as repressive and the cause for isolating the country, inflation soaring, and rampant poverty.”

“All of this,” Jungman explained, “has occurred under the current administration’s lax sanctions enforcement policy, which has enabled the regime to export millions of barrels of Iranian oil and accumulate billions in revenue from these sales. It is clear that only the regime is profiting while the Iranian people continue to suffer.”

Before the Biden administration took office and reentered talks with Iran, China was importing around 400,000 barrels of Iranian oil per day. That number now stands at around one million.

UANI analysts have discovered that Iran is using a so-called Ghost Armada comprising more than 200 oil-carrying ships. Much of this trade is being facilitated by China, which is able to import the illicit Iranian oil at discount prices.

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Biden’s America: Retailers Opt for Empty Shelves To Prevent Theft




Many retailers are emptying their shelves across the country, but not because of low stock. A concerning increase in thefts has pushed companies to put more products under lock and key, the Wall Street Journal reports.

At one Best Buy store in the suburbs of Houston, where hundreds of items like Bose speakers and Fitbit activity trackers used to sit on the shelves, shoppers will instead find small blue signs that read, “This product kept in secured location.”

Surging crime rates across the country are hitting retailers hard. The National Retail Federation’s 2022 Retail Security Survey found that retailers lost $94.5 billion overall in 2021 mainly due to external theft and organized retail crime. Theft attempts at Home Depot are on the rise compared with before the pandemic, Home Depot vice president of asset protection Scott Glenn told the Journal. Last year, the supermarket giant Kroger for the first time listed organized theft as a factor pressuring profit margins. Starbucks has had to close 16 U.S. stores this year because of drug-related incidents and other disruptions, the Journal reported.

Twelve Democrat-run cities hit record-high crime rates last year, the Washington Free Beacon reported. Voters have responded by turning on left-wing prosecutors who support lighter sentences, less policing, and the elimination of cash bail. President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has blamed the crime spike on “illegal gun trafficking” and has focused on gun control legislation.

“Organized retail crime is more than petty shoplifting, and the economic impact has become alarming,” Retail Industry Leaders Association senior executive vice president of public affairs Michael Hanson said in 2021. “Professional thieves and organized criminal rings are building a business model by stealing and reselling products, increasingly online through marketplace platforms like Amazon or Facebook.”

While Best Buy has always kept its high-valued items locked in the back, the number of locked items is higher in locations like Houston, where police data show that crime rates have risen.

Executives fear that more secured items will inconvenience customers and reduce sales. Some retailers are looking into “customer-friendly, higher-tech” security solutions, while others are giving employees more safety training.

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Area Police Logs | News






Police went to 8 Walnut St. at 11:13 p.m. Sunday to check on a party slumped over in a gray Jeep. Police woke Jason Lee Torres, 37, of 588 Summer St., Lynn, and arrested him for drunken driving, second offense, and for operating a motor vehicle on a suspended license.

Police were sent to Macy’s at 4:31 p.m., and spoke to asset protection, who reported one male and two females took sunglasses and fled. An officer spoke within the operator of the vehicle involved and will review surveillance footage.

A cruiser and was sent to the intersection of Webster and Tremont streets, at 8:27 p.m., for an intoxicated party lying in the middle of the road. They were transported to Salem.



Police responded to the intersection of Highland Avenue and Valley Street, at 3:58 p.m., for a motor-vehicle accident without injuries.

Police were called to 40R Highland Ave., at 6:43 p.m., for an undesirable or unwanted guest.

The report of a larceny brought police to 42 Mason St., at 7:11 p.m.

At 7:13 p.m., police were called to 204 Highland Ave., for another larceny.

Police were called to 91 Lafayette at 10 p.m., for a panhandler.


A cruiser was sent to 24 Willow Ave., at 2:35 a.m., to check on a noise complaint.

Vandalism or graffiti was reported at 13 Franklin St., at 8 a.m.

Police went to 170 North St., at 9:15 a.m., to end a dispute.

At 10:05 a.m., officers were sent to 5 Pioneer Terrace to halt a dispute.

Two motor vehicle hit-and-run accidents brought police to the vicinity of 155 Washington St., at 11:27 a.m., for a hit and run accident, and to the vicinity of 3 Bedford St., at 11:55 a.m., for another.

One call for a larceny brought officers to 12 First St., at 12:50 p.m., and another to 27 Charter St., at 1:10 p.m.

Police were sent to 14 Essex St., at 3:06 p.m., to look into a fraud or a scam.



Nine drivers were stopped and verbally warned for miscellaneous operating or safety offenses in or near the intersection of Ellsworth Avenue and Tremont Street between 4:03 and 4:34 p.m.

Four officers were sent to 224 Elliott St., at 4:55 p.m., for a bike taken by a friend.

The theft of a small boat and outboard engine from 126-127 Water St., were reported at 5:16 p.m.

Kids were disturbing the neighborhood in the vicinity of Robb Road and Stewart Lane at about 7:30 p.m. by ringing doorbells.

A cruiser was sent, about 7:15 p.m., to assist state police in finding a person walking on Route 128 north in the vicinity of Beverly Exit 19.

Two cruisers, fire and ambulance were dispatched to the vicinity of Exit 20B on Route 128 north. at 7:52 p.m., for a motor-vehicle accident.

The sergeant along with two officers and an ambulance were sent to Cabot Street on the Salem Line, at 8:56 p.m., for a man on the bridge.


Two officers were called to a Lothrop Street address, at 4:53 a.m., to assist a party with their female friend.

An officer was sent to Cabot Street, at 10:27 a.m., to assist with students who came to school under the influence.

Officers were sent to 295 Cabot St., at 11:20 a.m., to assist a female who kept falling in the street.

The sergeant and a patrolman were sent to 606 Cabot St., at 12:44 p.m., for loud neighbors playing offensive music.

Two officers were sent to Essex Street, at 1:15 p.m. to try to assist an 83-year-old man possibly having a stroke.

Two officers went to the vicinity of 91 Herrick St., at 2:50 p.m., to settle an argument between two drivers over a parking space.


Monday, Sept. 19

A bear sighting was reported at 7:45 a.m., in the vicinity of Forest Street.

Tuesday, Sept. 20

An officer went to Park Street after a person complained about being threatened or verbally harassed.

Wednesday, Sept. 21

A party came into the station, at 9:39 a.m. and spoke with an officer about a customer who canceled payment after services were rendered.

Police authorized towing a car parked in the way of paving underway, at 10:40 a.m., at the Ferncroft Corporate Center, Village Road.

Thursday, Sept. 22

Police were sent to North Liberty Street, at 6:55 a.m., for a motor-vehicle accident with injury. The 17-year-old operator was placed under juvenile arrest and was summoned to court for negligent operation of a motor vehicle and for speeding at a rate greater than reasonable.

A telephone fraud or scam was reported by a Peaslee Circle party, at 2:38 p.m.

Police forwarded a request of illegal dumping at the Rubchinuk dump on East Street to the DPW, at 3:22 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 23

A catalytic converter theft from a North Main Street location was reported to police at 3:07 a.m.

A check fraud was reported to police, at 4:17 p.m. from a North Main Street address.

An ambulance was sent to MarketBasket at 6:54 p.m., for a party who had fainted or lost consciousness. They were transported to an area hospital.

Saturday, Sept. 24

Police received multiple calls regarding a power outage, starting about 8:22 a.m. from East Street. The Middleton Electric Department was notified.

Saturday, Sept. 25

Police were sent to the Doubletree Hotel, Village Road, at 2:15 a.m., where they arrested a male for a domestic assault and battery on an intimate partner.

An officer was sent to Market Basket at 12:52 p.m. for a report of a panhandler walking between cars stopped in traffic and asking for money.

An officer was sent to Forest Street at 3:20 p.m., for a report of a person behaving suspiciously at an open house.



Police were sent to the vicinity of 15 Folly Hill Drive, at 9:20 p.m., to search for an SUV believed to have been involved in a larceny, but the search was fruitless.


An officer was sent to Holten Garden Condos, 33 Holten St., at 10:47 a.m., to send a male who wouldn’t leave on his way.

Police were sent to 16 Dartmouth St., at 11:06 a.m., to look for a suspicious person who tried to get into the house.

An ambulance was sent to Twin Oaks Nursing Home, 63 Locust St., at 1:28 p.m., to transport a party hurt in an assault, involving a nurse and a patient, to the hospital.

A 38 Princeton St. party reported their front license plate was missing or had been stolen.

Police were sent to Buffalo Wild Wings, 100 Independence St., at 3:22 p.m. for a complaint about three teens.


An issue with an Uber driver brought an officer to Recovery Centers of America, 75 Lindall St., at 2 a.m.

Police were called to Motel 6, 65 Newbury St., at 8:26 a.m., after a party reported stolen suitcases.

The theft of more than $2,000 worth of Jewelry brought police to The Doubletree Hotel, 51 Village Road, at 10:45 a.m.

Police were called to the Danversport Bridge, 126 Water St., at 11:47 a.m., for a protest at the bridge.

An officer was sent to M&T Bank, 1 Conant St., at 12:58 p.m., to check the well-being of a mother under duress.

An officer was sent to the Highlands School, 190 Hobart St., at 2:30 p.m., to assist the crossing guard.



Police performed property checks on Community Road, Atlantic Avenue, Stramski Way and Humphrey Street between 1:06 and 1:44 a.m.

Two officers were sent to the {span}Jewish Community Center of the North Shore {/span}on Community Road, at 8:36 a.m., for a property check at 8:36 a.m.

Police were called to the intersection of Pleasant Street and Baldwin Road at 8:45 a.m. to clear obstructed traffic.

An officer was sent to Conant Road, at 10:13 a.m., on a general complaint.

At 11:12 a.m. officers were called to Atlantic Avenue for a motor vehicle crash.

Officers were sent to Lafayette Street, at 12:05 p.m., for an assault.

At 4:21 p.m. police were sent to Commercial Street for a motor-vehicle crash.

A disturbance brought two officers to Broughton Road at 6:05 p.m.

An officer was posted to the intersection of Countryside Lane and Humphrey at 6:43 p.m. for speed enforcement.

Two officers were sent to Everett Paine Boulevard, at 6:58 p.m., to check on a burglar alarm.

At 7:52 p.m., two officers were sent to Pleasant Street to end a disturbance.

Between 10:11 and 10:36 p.m. on Monday, officers made property checks on Lighthouse Lane, Community Road, Atlantic Avenue and Brook Road.

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