Brazilian prosecutor Luiz Antonio Guimaraes has been sworn in as the new head of the Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (Maccih).
Guimaraes, attorney general to the state of Sao Paolo between 1996 and 2004, presented his credentials to Honduran Foreign Minister Maria Dolores Aguero Lara on Thursday in her Capitol office.
Over the past two decades, Guimaraes has presided over the Fiscal Association of Sao Paulo and the National Council of Attorney Generals of Brazil. He has served as the minister of justice to Sao Paulo.
Most recently the newly elected Maccih leader served as secretary of legal business for Sao Paulo and was the city’s secretary of justice from 2007 to 2010. After Guimaraes was inaugurated, he reiterated his commitment to supporting anti-corruption efforts in Honduras.
Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro had called for Guimaraes to replace the previous head of Maccih, Peruvian Juan Jimenez Mayor, in April.
It took a few months and some pressure from Almagro in order for Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, also known as 'JOH,' to finally accept the appointment in June.
Hernandez and his National Party have tried several times to sideline the mission that was formed in 2015, particularly when its investigators produced several major embezzlement cases connected to Hernandez, his family and his party.
Last January, Congress and Hernandez approved a law diverting authority to audit and investigate public functionaries and funds away from the Maccih and the public prosecutor's office towards the Superior Accounts Tribunal (TSC), a governing body with no legal authority to indict.
Eric Olson, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center's Latin American program, has said that "the Honduran government has felt uncomfortable about Maccih from the start."
Juan Jimenez Mayor vacated the role last February, citing government hostility and a lack of support from its parent organization, the OAS. Before he resigned, he was investigating the 'Network of Functionaries' case that allegedly involves 140 former and current government and elected officials.
Mayor claimed the network, comprised mainly of Congress members and non-government organization (NGO) leaders, illegally channeled approximately US$55million of state funds into their own pockets.
Marrey is replacing a former colleague, interim Maccih spokesperson Ana Calderon Boy, who has been serving since Mayor left the post.