Gustavo Petro Backs Guatemala’s Defense Minister Accused of Corruption

Colombian President suggests retaliating against Guatemala after arrest warrant issued against defense minister

Colombian President Gustavo Petro has refused to accept an arrest warrant issued against his defense minister, Iván Velásquez, by the Guatemalan Prosecutor’s Office. On Monday (01.16.2023), he took to Twitter to express his refusal to abide by the warrant, and announced that he has called his ambassador for consultations in the Central American country.

“I will never accept the arrest warrant for our minister Velásquez. He has shown that he fights against corruption and we will not allow corruption to persecute him,” Petro tweeted.

The warrant was issued due to Velásquez’s alleged “illegal, arbitrary and abusive acts”, in the midst of an investigation for alleged corruption promoted by the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.

The Guatemalan Prosecutor’s Office did not specify what legal actions will be taken against the Colombian official.

Velásquez has been a member of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) since 2013. He claims to have acted with transparency and within legal framework while working in the commission.

The Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that the ambassador in Guatemala, Victoria González Ariza, has been called for consultations. However, the President on no account has hinted at taking retaliatory measures against Guatemala.

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