Guatemala enforces ban on Hezbollah with anti-terrorism financing law

“We have declared Hezbollah to be a terrorist group, but we need more than this designation to be applied to this organization, which already has a presence in Latin America,” said Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.

By Algemeiner Staff

The Guatemalan government on Tuesday reaffirmed its commitment to a ban on Hezbollah — Iran’s Shi’a proxy in Lebanon — by announcing new legislation to prevent the financing of terrorism.

Speaking at a press conference, Alejandro Giammattei — Guatemala’s president — argued that a “regulatory framework” to crack down on Hezbollah’s ability to transfer laundered funds was imperative for the ban on the organization to have teeth.

“We have declared Hezbollah to be a terrorist group, but we need more than this designation to be applied to this organization, which already has a presence in Latin America,” Giammattei said. “We need the regulatory framework to ensure that there are no funds from this country which are financing the harming of other countries. Consequently, prevention and repression are justified.”

The government’s proposed bill for the “Prevention and Repression of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism” has been designed to impose tighter controls on banks and other financial institutions that are used by Hezbollah to process and move its funds.

Passage of the legislation would enable Guatemala to present itself to the international community “as a state that seeks to combat corruption, money laundering and other illicit activities, and the financing of terrorism, head-on,” Giammattei said.

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Guatemalan Jews warmly welcomed Giammattei’s announcement.

“As Guatemalans, as Jews, and as citizens of the world, we are grateful to the government of Guatemala for having taken this brave decision, which places our country on the right side of history by joining in a global fight against terrorism and building a safer world,” Rebeca Permuth de Sabbagh — the president of the Guatemalan Jewish community — told Giammattei in a letter.

Along with Colombia and Honduras, Guatemala confirmed in January of this year that it was designating Hezbollah as a terrorist group, in a move applauded by the US and Israel.