Photo: Prominent journalist José Rubén Zamora detained by police officers in Guatemala. Source: Johan Ordonez/AFP.
Last Friday, Guatemalan authorities arrested journalist José Rubén Zamora at his home in Guatemala City for alleged money laundering, blackmail, and influence peddling. Zamora is the founder and president of El Periódico, a newspaper known for investigating suspected acts of corruption within the Giammattei administration. Zamora described his arrest as “political persecution.” Rafael Curruchiche—who leads the anti-impunity office in Guatemala and was placed on the U.S. State Department Engel List of corrupt and undemocratic actors in Central America last month—declared that Zamora’s detention had nothing to do with his being a journalist. Police also raided the El Periódico headquarters. In response to his arrest and the raid, Zamora started a hunger strike. The Association of Guatemalan Journalists described these events as censorship and an act of revenge for El Periódico’s uncovering of corruption within the government.
On Tuesday, Guatemalan authorities raided a compound in the department of Huehuetenango where a migrant smuggling ring operated. Nineteen people were arrested, including Felipe Diego Alonzo, the presumed leader of the smuggling ring. The organization’s members allegedly worked as coyotes, smuggling migrants from Guatemala into the United States. Guatemalan authorities documented 11 operations by the smuggling network since October of last year and USD $2 million in revenue since 2019. Alonzo and three other detainees were targets of U.S. prosecutors for their connection to a Guatemalan migrant who was found dead last year in Texas after being smuggled into the United States. Some of the alleged smugglers were flown to Guatemala City for their initial court appearances.