San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Guatemala

Guatemalan president sacks 3 ministers amid graft scandal

Guatemala’s embattled President Otto Pérez Molina fired three ministers and his spy chief Thursday, seeking to get a grip on a deepening corruption scandal that already claimed his vice president.

Those sacked included Interior Minister Mauricio López, a close ally seen as the president’s right-hand man.

Pérez also announced he had fired Environment Minister Michelle Martinez, Energy and Mines minister Edwin Rodas and Intelligence Chief Ulises Anzueto.

The president has faced large protests calling for his resignation since a UN-backed investigation uncovered a customs bribery ring implicating a wide array of high-ranking officials.

Vice President Roxana Baldetti resigned this month after a top aide was accused of involvement.

Pérez’s headaches got worse Wednesday when another close ally, the president of the Guatemalan Social Security Institute (IGSS), was arrested along with the central bank chief over a separate corruption case involving fraud in a $14.5-million dialysis contract.

The president said he had asked his entire cabinet to resign 15 days ago, to decide who would stay and who would be sacked.

“The final decision was to make this change,” he said.

He said he had no plans to resign, vowing to ride out his term until it ends in January.

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