International

Guatemala, with Taiwan’s help, to hire Trump ally for lobbying push

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Guatemala has reportedly paid $900,000 to hire a longtime Trump ally as a lobbyist to assist in the country’s desire to work more closely with U.S. officials.

Guatemalan’s ambassador to the U.S., Alfonso Quinonez, on Jan. 12 signed a roughly one-year contract together with Brian Ballard to publicly establish Ballard Partners with the Department of Justice as a foreign agent working with the country on its relations with the U.S.

Ballard, a top fundraiser for Trump, is a powerful political lobbyist whose firm Ballard Partners was the fifth highest-grossing lobbying group in 2020.

Guatemala paid for Ballard’s $75,000-a-month contract with the help of Taiwan, The Associated Press reported, which is not an illegal move but still an unusual one.

“It’s unusual for one government to be paying the fees for lobbying for another government,” said Covington & Burling attorney Robert Kelner to the AP.

Taiwan, a Democratic island nation close to China, plans to work more closely with Guatemala in the future, a Taiwanese official told AP. Beijing, which has increased its rhetoric on reclaiming Taiwan as part of the Chinese mainland, has a growing influence in South America.

Guatemala continues to face allegations of corruption, and the nation suffers from gang violence, with many citizens fleeing the country for better opportunities in the U.S.

Last June, the U.S. forged an agreement with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei to support the country’s economy and address corruption as part of an initiative to tackle “root causes” driving South American migration.

Tags Alejandro Giammattei Brian Ballard Contract Guatemala Guatemala lobbying Lobbying Taiwan U.S.

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