No Visa for Guatemalan Politico Who Denounced Obama’s Ambassador

Todd Robinson Locks Horns with Latino Trump Supporter

Guatemalen Congressman Fernando Linares at the Republican National Convention in July 2016. (FLB)

In March a Guatemalan congressman publicly accused an Obama official of sabotaging the Trump administration, and now the embassy has revoked his visa to travel to the United States. The embassy provided no explanation in its April 3 correspondence, but it demanded that Fernando Linares either show himself within 30 days or send in his passport.

Linares says that he was invited by the International Human Rights Group to travel to
Washington, DC, for meetings with several members of Congress and their staffs. However, according to Linares, US Ambassador Todd Robinson is preventing him from attending the event, which began on Tuesday, as an act of vengeance in response to his criticism.

The response from Fernando Linares to the embassy, asking for an explanation.

The letter from the US embassy, informing Congressman Fernando Linares that his visa has been revoked.

Linares has requested an explanation, although the timing is strongly suggestive. He complained that Robinson, a holdover from the Obama administration, had interfered with Guatemalan politics, aligned with violent collectivists, and disrespected national sovereignty. Robinson doesn’t necessarily see meddling as a problem, and has even declared publicly to the press that in his list of concerns, “sovereignty comes last.”

Linares has also criticized what he sees as derogatory handling of diplomatic relations with the country, such as Robinson’s description of the legislative body as “a Congress that fights for its privileges but does not try to mend the serious problems of this country.”

Similarly, when the papal emissary called for the US official to mind his own business, Robinson dismissed him as irrelevant: “The nuncio’s words don’t matter to me.” Further, in July 2016 he offended the nation’s religious conservatives by flying two rainbow flags outside the embassy.

“Perhaps Mr. Robinson would be more content if he were in Guatemala as a political activist, and not as a diplomat,” said Linares in a letter addressed to then-Secretary of State Kerry and calling for Robinson’s replacement.

After losing the reappointment of Obama-supported former Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz, Robinson and the UN-appointed commission CICIG are attempting to reform the constitution and process for selecting magistrates. The entry of the newly elected Trump has raised the urgency for Robinson, since the ambassador will likely be counting the days until a replacement arrives.

Linares says that he is not alone in his anger toward what he describes as miscarriages of justice. However, he contends that others suppress their criticism of Robinson because they fear getting their visas revoked, as has happened to Linares now. They may also fear losing their positions entirely, as happened to Melanie Müllers, after she expressed support for Trump’s proposal to tighten border security.

Guatemala has a relatively conservative and outsider president, Jimmy Morales, who would be potentially receptive to Trump and his immigration proposals. Linares, also a conservative, has expressed support for the US president. That places them in stark contrast to the US ambassador, who openly promotes a progressive agenda and, for the meantime, remains in office.

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Updated on April 21 at 3 p.m. EDT.

Melinda McCrady
Melinda McCrady is the digital-media director of Antigua International. She previously worked for seven years in digital marketing in financial services and prior to that was an editor for a publication in the film production industry. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from California State University, Long Beach, where she also worked as a webmaster for various organizations. Follow @GoKiteFly.

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