President of Guatemala sacks Environmental Minister over alleged corruption

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By Marco Echevarria

The President of Guatemala, Bernardo Arévalo, announced this Sunday the dismissal of the Minister of the Environment, María José Iturbide, after it was known that he had assigned official vehicles and security elements to his daughter, María Fernanda Iturbdide, for his personal activities.

“(Arévalo) has taken this decision to avoid any doubts about his Administration’s commitment and zero tolerance for the misuse of state resources and corruption, reads a statement from the Secretary General of the Presidency, Juan Gerardo Guerrero Garnica.

It has also ordered the National Anti-Corruption Commission to create presidential guidelines for the use of official vehicles, ensuring their responsible and ethical use, in line with the principles that will be contained in the code of ethics for officials.

We thank Iturbide for the service provided to the Government of the Republic and the people of Guatemala. With accountability, Guatemala is ahead, Guerrero has concluded.

For his part, Arévalo has stressed through his social networks that he will not allow corruption during his term: Do I want to show the people of Guatemala that our Government is different. We will not tolerate practices that may be at odds with the proper behavior of every public servant.

This is a precedent for our entire cabinet, which will also set criteria for other organs of the public administration, added the Guatemalan president. Hours earlier, Arévalo’s number two, Karin Herrera, described what happened in the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources as “inadmissible.”

Last week, Iturbide indicated that he was aware of the risks that his position entails – when working towards the protection of the country’s environment and natural resources – showing himself – being “disposed to face the difficulties, challenges and pressures.”

What I’m not willing to do is to be stuck against the safety of my family. Some weeks ago, my daughter was subjected to intimidation and persecution (…) As a mother, in the face of this situation, my reaction was to provide her with temporary security. As a minister, I recognize that at that time there was a bad procedure to ask for the protection of my family, because my reaction was immediate,” he explained then.

After that, he reiterated his commitment to take care of the country’s natural resources, as well as the financial ones, although he requested the Ministry of the Interior to carry out the risk and safety analysis of his family.

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in El Pais