Two deputy well being ministers in Guatemala had been fired this week amid revelations of an alleged corruption ring contained in the ministry.
Rodolfo Galdamez, the technical deputy minister of well being, and Hector Marroquin, the executive deputy minister of well being, had been fired Monday, in keeping with officers.
Eight well being officers conspired to defraud state funds throughout the coronavirus pandemic, in keeping with the presidential fee towards corruption. The fee filed its findings Monday with the Particular Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Bureau. It was unclear whether or not Galdamez and Marroquin had been among the many eight investigated by the fee. No officers had been named.
Neither Marroquin nor Galdamez instantly commented on their removing.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Well being informed Al Jazeera that as a result of the difficulty is underneath prison investigation, no additional particulars will be confirmed.
The names of the alleged perpetrators weren’t launched, however presidential anti-corruption commissioner Oscar Davila famous the group of eight included officers faraway from workplace.
“A construction was recognized contained in the Ministry of Public Well being that attempted to hitch forces to commit fraud towards the pursuits of the state in these instances when funds should be strictly monitored,” Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei mentioned Monday.
“We aren’t going to tolerate corruption. We aren’t going to allow anybody to steal one cent, and fewer so in the course of a disaster,” he mentioned.
Guatemala has confirmed 294 instances of the novel coronavirus, together with 50 instances of Guatemalans deported by america. Seven individuals have died.
The nation confirmed its first coronavirus case on March 13. Lower than every week later, the ring of top-level well being officers allegedly engaged in prison exercise associated to the adjudication of two public contracts for medicine purchases.
“These occasions started on March 18 of this 12 months,” Davila informed reporters Monday on the prosecutor’s workplace, including that the fee started investigating the next day.
The presidential fee towards corruption was established by Giammattei shortly after he took workplace in January, 4 months after his predecessor shut down a outstanding United Nations-backed worldwide anti-impunity fee.
“For us, it is vitally vital to have a presidential fee that focuses on these points,” presidential spokesman Carlos Sandoval informed Al Jazeera.
“It permits us to take care of a clear and particularly sincere endeavour in these instances, when the inhabitants wants officers who correctly utilise the sources of Guatemalans,” he mentioned.
Deposed deputy well being minister Galdamez is the topic of a separate prison investigation into alleged corruption, the Particular Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Bureau introduced Monday, acknowledging a media report that prompted the investigation.
The report, printed on Saturday by Plaza Publica, an internet Guatemalan publication, revealed that Galdamez benefitted from public contracts whereas in workplace, which is prohibited by regulation.
Requires well being minister’s dismissal
Guatemala’s Human Rights Ombudsman, Jordan Rodas, formally requested the removing of Well being Minister Hugo Monroy from workplace. By regulation, the ombudsman could request the suspension or removing of officers in some circumstances.
“Over the course of the COVID-19 disaster, the poor administration of the portfolio has grow to be evident,” Rodas informed Al Jazeera.
The brand new allegations of corruption are only one issue, he mentioned. There was a sluggish tempo within the decentralisation of coronavirus testing, and “a scarcity of agility within the administrative processes to supply medical and paramedic personnel with optimum gear,” mentioned Rodas.
“We want new professionals on the helm of the ministry within the midst of a disaster,” he mentioned.
Edie Cux, a lawyer and president of Accion Ciudadana, an anti-corruption citizen motion group, mentioned “what is actually regarding is how the Ministry of Well being is managing the disaster.”
Cux informed Al Jazeera that “greater than whether or not or not an official is ousted, what’s worrisome is the top-down means issues are being managed.”
Info and disaster administration is top-down and centralised within the president and well being minister, and there’s little proof of teamwork or collaboration throughout authorities companies, mentioned Cux.
“The president could be very succesful and all, however he’s not Superman,” he mentioned.
“There should be groups of specialists and officers who can adequately deal with the disaster,” mentioned Cuz. “And in that vein arises the difficulty of what sorts of appointments the well being minister has been making.”