Jonathan Blitzer @JonathanBlitzer Staff writer @newyorker Aug. 11, 2019 1 min read

When Acting Secretary of Homeland Security was in Guatemala a week and a half ago, trying to sell a safe-third country deal, a local reporter asked him, "Do the Americans understand who they’re even negotiating with”? Today the country is holding national elections. 1/

The current president faces a corruption investigation for graft & campaign-finance violations. Earlier this year, he repeatedly met w former Congressman (Mario Estrada) just days after Estrada struck a deal w two undercover DEA agents posing as members of the Sinaloa Cartel. 2/

Unsurprisingly, Jimmy Morales, the current president, has tried for more than a year to dismantle an anti-corruption body that's earned international plaudits. That body was backed by U.S. until fairly recently. Here's the story of what happened there 3/:  https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-trump-administrations-self-defeating-policy-toward-the-guatemalan-elections 

The only candidate who vowed to continue the mandate of the anti-corruption body came under political and legal attack, was knocked off the ballot, and is now in exile. The two remaining candidates have made clear that they will not fight state corruption. 4/

At present, it's looking the right-wing candidate has an edge. Here's a primer (in Spanish) of what he's about.  https://nomada.gt/pais/elecciones-2019/giammattei-20-anos-de-candidato-y-una-coleccion-de-criminales-cerca-suyo/  5/

To return to reporter's question: do Americans know who they're dealing with? She wasn't just referring to Prez. She was also referring to minister who signed safe-third agreement (in violation of a court order). Turns out, that minister's brother has alleged ties to narcos. 6/

And on and on. US State Department officials are skeptical that the Guatemalan gov't can even carry out the immigration deal. It's neither trustworthy nor competent. But the Admin pushed ahead anyway, just as it's looked away as rule of law has come under attack in Guate. end/


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