icon caret Arrow Down Arrow Left Arrow Right Arrow Up Line Camera icon set icon set Ellipsis icon set Facebook Favorite Globe Hamburger List Mail Map Marker Map Microphone Minus PDF Play Print RSS Search Share Trash Crisiswatch Alerts and Trends Box - 1080/761 Copy Twitter Video Camera  copyview Youtube
¿De bastón a catalizador?: la Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala
¿De bastón a catalizador?: la Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala
Undocumented Migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America
Undocumented Migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America
People hold national flags and a sign reading "I love CICIG as they take part in a demonstration in demand of Guatemalan President Otto Perez's resignation, in Guatemala City, 22 August 2015. AFP PHOTO/Johan Ordonez
Report 56 / Latin America & Caribbean

¿De bastón a catalizador?: la Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala

  • Share
  • Save
  • Print
  • Download PDF Full Report

Resumen ejecutivo

Guatemala – uno de los países más violentos, desiguales y pobres de América Latina – tiene una oportunidad excepcional. Un nuevo presidente, Jimmy Morales, fortalecido por una victoria aplastante, ha asumido el poder ofreciendo poner fin a la corrupción. La vieja élite política es un caos. Los ciudadanos están presionando para que se lleven a cabo reformas que mejoren la eficacia de la justicia y la transparencia del gobierno. Detrás de estos cambios está un experimento único, la Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (CICIG), cuyos investigadores trabajan junto a fiscales nacionales para desmantelar las redes criminales que han penetrado el Estado. Sin embargo, la CICIG no es una solución permanente. Guatemala perderá esta oportunidad si sus líderes no asumen como propia la lucha contra la impunidad, aprueban las reformas a la justicia y a la seguridad que se encuentran paralizadas y obtienen los recursos financieros necesarios para fortalecer sus instituciones.

La CICIG comenzó a funcionar en 2007, con la investigación de grupos de seguridad clandestinos que continuaron operando desde el interior del Estado tras los acuerdos de 1996 que pusieron fin a 36 años de conflicto armado. Estos grupos siguen perjudicando al Estado, aunque ahora su principal objetivo no es eliminar opositores políticos, sino obtener poder económico. El apoyo y financiamiento internacional garantizan la independencia de la comisión, si bien ésta opera bajo las leyes guatemaltecas. A diferencia de las iniciativas tradicionales, no sólo capacita, sino que además trabaja codo a codo con los fiscales y policías, proporcionándoles los conocimientos técnicos e independencia política necesarios para obligar a poderosos bajo sospecha a rendir cuentas ante la ley.

La CICIG ha impulsado y ayudado a implementar un programa de protección de testigos, endurecer el control de armas, establecer normas para las interceptaciones de comunicaciones y crear tribunales de alto riesgo para juzgar acusados especialmente peligrosos. Al mismo tiempo, ha llevado a cabo complejas investigaciones de alto perfil que han resultado en acusaciones de fraude contra un expresidente, por ejecuciones extrajudiciales contra un exministro y otros altos funcionarios de seguridad, y de fraude, asociación ilícita y homicidio contra docenas de funcionarios y presuntos narcotraficantes.

Sin embargo, la comisión ha sufrido importantes reveses y limitaciones. Algunos casos de alto perfil han sido sobreseídos. Ciertas reformas clave, como la ley de la carrera judicial, han quedado estancadas en el Congreso. Si bien ha ayudado a fortalecer ciertas unidades especializadas, el Ministerio Público sigue desbordado, incluso ausente, en gran parte del país. Otras instituciones fundamentales para combatir la impunidad – en particular la policía civil y el poder judicial – siguen siendo débiles, vulnerables a la corrupción, y por lo general impunes.

La CICIG asestó los golpes más espectaculares contra la impunidad en 2015, arrestando a casi 200 funcionarios por distintos casos de corrupción y desarticulando una trama preparada para defraudar millones de dólares al sistema aduanero. En colaboración con fiscales nacionales, la CICIG reunió y analizó una enorme cantidad de pruebas. Según los fiscales, esas evidencias los condujeron al presidente Otto Pérez Molina, quien renunció (aunque negó estar implicado en alguna actividad criminal) y actualmente se encuentra detenido en una prisión militar a la espera de juicio.

Gran parte del éxito reciente de la CICIG se debe a la tenacidad y persistencia de su actual comisionado, Iván Velásquez, un jurista conocido por revelar los vínculos entre políticos y estructuras paramilitares en Colombia, su país natal. Sin embargo la CICIG no podría funcionar sin la estrecha colaboración y el apoyo de los investigadores guatemaltecos. Fiscales generales muy diferentes entre sí – la ex activista de derechos humanos Claudia Paz y Paz y la experimentada jurista Thelma Aldana – han demostrado poseer la independencia y el coraje necesarios para perseguir casos complejos y controvertidos contra poderosos bajo sospecha.

Un ingrediente clave es el apoyo popular. Tanto la comisión como los fiscales gozan de amplia aprobación entre los ciudadanos cansados del crimen violento y la corrupción. Las investigaciones fortalecieron a un amplio movimiento cívico organizado alrededor de la reforma judicial y la transparencia gubernamental. En un país durante mucho tiempo polarizado por diferencias ideológicas, económicas y étnicas, la cruzada contra la corrupción ha unido, al menos por el momento, a grupos diversos, desde asociaciones empresariales a organizaciones sindicales, profesionales urbanos y líderes indígenas.

La indignación por la corrupción en el gobierno mantiene unido al movimiento, pero sin una clara agenda de cambio. Los líderes políticos de Guatemala deberían canalizar el descontento hacia un debate nacional sobre las reformas necesarias para fortalecer la justicia y fomentar la rendición de cuentas. Morales, un ex comediante de televisión, hizo campaña como un anti-político. Aún no ha propuesto un programa de reformas claro que incluya nueva legislación para garantizar la independencia de jueces y fiscales, endurecer las leyes de financiamiento de campañas electorales, y fortalecer la policía nacional civil en cuanto a su honestidad y su profesionalismo. Asimismo, el Estado – débil e insuficientemente financiado – debe implementar reformas tributarias a fin de proporcionar a sus instituciones judiciales los recursos necesarios para pagar buenos salarios, brindar condiciones de trabajo decentes y ampliar su cobertura a todo el país.

El mandato de la CICIG finaliza en septiembre de 2017, aunque, sabiamente, el presidente ha propuesto prorrogarlo. No obstante, la ayuda internacional no puede durar indefinidamente. La comisión es la mejor oportunidad que tiene Guatemala para implementar una verdadera reforma judicial, y esa oportunidad no debería ser desperdiciada. El gobierno debe comenzar a planificar su salida fortaleciendo su propia capacidad para combatir el crimen y la corrupción.

Recomendaciones

Para transformar las promesas de lucha contra la corrupción en planes de acción claros y prepararse para el momento en que ya no sea necesaria la CICIG

Al gobierno de Guatemala:

  1. Promover, adoptar e implementar legislación y políticas para profundizar la profesionalización de fiscales y jueces, incluida la reforma del proceso de selección y reclutamiento, mandatos más largos para garantizar la independencia, y nuevos mecanismos para evaluar el desempeño y frenar la corrupción.
     
  2. Reanudar los esfuerzos para transformar la policía civil en una fuerza profesional centrada en la prevención de la violencia y fortalecer su órgano de investigación para colaborar con los fiscales en la resolución de crímenes, incluida la transferencia de capacidades y conocimiento de la CICIG.
     
  3. Proporcionar a la policía, fiscales y jueces mayores recursos para luchar contra el crimen y la impunidad mediante reformas tributarias, entre otras cosas demandando a los líderes del sector privado, especialistas económicos y la sociedad civil a que desarrollen propuestas para mejorar la eficacia, equidad y transparencia de los impuestos y el gasto.

Al Congreso de Guatemala:

  1. Trabajar con todos los partidos, el presidente y la sociedad civil para desarrollar una estrategia, que incluya la reforma tributaria, para combatir la corrupción y fortalecer las instituciones de justicia y de seguridad.
     
  2. Reformar la ley electoral y de partidos políticos para endurecer las normas aplicables al financiamiento de campañas electorales.
     
  3. Reestablecer el trabajo de la mesa sobre reforma a la justicia que reúne a legisladores, la CICIG, jueces y la sociedad civil para proponer y debatir iniciativas para fortalecer la independencia y competencia del poder judicial, así como la posibilidad de restringir la inmunidad de los diputados y otros funcionarios públicos.

Al Poder Judicial de Guatemala:

  1. Brindar capacitación adicional a jueces de todos los niveles sobre el uso del análisis criminal, pruebas científicas y nuevas herramientas fiscales, así como la negociación de penas con acusados, informantes y colaboradores.
  2. Trabajar con el presidente, el Congreso y la sociedad civil en la ley de la carrera judicial y otras iniciativas para lograr que el poder judicial sea más independiente y profesional.

Al Ministerio Público (MP) de Guatemala y la CICIG:

  1. Ampliar la cooperación para transferir competencias a fiscales especializados que estén trabajando en casos complejos, como aquellos que investigan el crimen organizado, el lavado de dinero y el tráfico de personas.
     
  2. Fortalecer la oficina de asuntos internos del MP para identificar, sancionar o destituir a funcionarios por mala conducta.
     
  3. Trabajar conjuntamente en una estrategia para desarrollar un cuerpo profesional de policía de investigación.
     
  4. Fomentar la rendición de cuentas dentro del MP y la CICIG mediante el diseño de objetivos e indicadores medibles.

A los EE.UU., la Unión Europea y sus Estados miembros y otros Estados e instituciones donantes:

  1. Continuar proporcionando a la CICIG los recursos necesarios para concluir su trabajo, incluidos fondos adicionales para el desarrollo de las capacidades de las instituciones judiciales.
     
  2. Alentar a otros países que estén luchando contra la corrupción y la violencia a considerar la instalación de un mecanismo similar a la CICIG, mediante alianzas locales internacionales.

Ciudad de Guatemala/Bogotá/Bruselas, 29 de enero de 2016

Undocumented Migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America

The northward flow of undocumented migrants fleeing economic hardship and violence in the Northern Triangle of Central America exposes thousands of vulnerable people to mass victimisation. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – Third Update early warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to continue to pursue an approach grounded in supporting community violence prevention, institutional reform and poverty alleviation in the countries of origin while supporting transiting countries in managing the flow.

This commentary is part of our Watch List 2017 – Third Update.

Flows of undocumented migrants from Central America, through Mexico and toward the U.S. have given rise to a humanitarian emergency, albeit one that at present is largely treated by Washington as a national security menace and a justification for tougher border control. Originally driven by economic hardship, this northbound migration owes its intensity and longevity to multiple causes that make controlling or reducing it extremely hard. Mass victimisation of vulnerable migrants in transit has become the norm and could well be aggravated by Washington’s growing anti-immigration agenda. In this context, the European Union (EU) should adapt its current strategies in Central America to promote a more comprehensive approach to the protection of migrants.

Humanitarian impact

The flow of migrants from the countries of the Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA) – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – to the U.S. has become as much a flight from life-endangering violence as a search for economic opportunity. Surveys of migrants and refugees carried out by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Mexico showed 39.2 per cent cite attacks or threats to themselves or their families, extortion or forced recruitment into gangs as the main reasons for their flight.

Once on their journey north, undocumented migrants must chart a perilous path between the dual threats of law enforcement and criminal groups. Crisis Group’s 2016 report (Easy Prey: Criminal Violence and Central American Migration, 28 July 2016) describes how toughened law enforcement has diverted undocumented migration into more costly, circuitous and dangerous channels, where criminal gangs and corrupt officials benefit from policies that lead desperate people to pay increasing sums to avoid detention.

In the process, undocumented migrants are exposed to kidnappings, human trafficking, enforced disappearances, sexual violence, robbery and extortion. The most egregious cases include the 2010 and 2011 San Fernando massacres, in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, in which 265 migrants, most of them Central American, were killed by the Zetas drug trafficking cartel. Stuck in a legal limbo, migrants are doubly victimised: fearful of authorities, they are highly unlikely to report the crimes they suffer or gain access to medical care should they need it.

MSF has described undocumented migrants’ plight as “comparable to the conditions in conflict zones”. Two thirds of migrants reported being victims of violence during their transit toward the U.S.; nearly one third of women surveyed said they had been sexually abused during the journey. Among the migrants exposed to these risks are some of the most vulnerable groups in Central American society. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that asylum requests by unaccompanied NTCA minors in Mexico increased 416 per cent from 2013 to 2016.

U.S. policies

Fear of undocumented migration to the U.S. increasingly dominates political debate in that country. Although former President Obama stepped up border controls and continued a vigorous deportation policy – returning over five million people in total – his administration also welcomed legal migrants, acknowledged the humanitarian crisis posed by unaccompanied children arriving from Central America, and extended support to refugees around the world. President Trump, by contrast, was elected in part on a platform of clamping down on immigration, and some of his most influential supporters have made clear that their continued backing depends on implementation of stringent restrictive measures.

Undocumented entry into the U.S. already had become more difficult. 100,000 undocumented migrants made it into the U.S in 2016, compared to over 600,000 in 2006, according to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report.

Deepening Mexican collaboration with U.S. efforts to staunch the flow of Central Americans accounts for much of this reduction, and is likely to persist as Mexico strives to mitigate bilateral frictions with the Trump administration. In response to the 2014 crisis presented by migrant children arriving at the U.S. border, Mexican authorities boosted checkpoints, detentions and deportations of Northern Triangle nationals on its southern border with Guatemala. Mexico now deports more Central Americans than the U.S. (see graph).

Sources: Mexican Secretariat of Government http://politicamigratoria.gob.mx/es_mx/SEGOB/Boletines_Estadisticos and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) https://www.ice.gov/statistics

None of this has lessened the Trump administration’s determination to curb recent arrivals from Mexico and the Northern Triangle. The Temporary Protected Status (TPS) – which benefits some 200,000 migrants who came to the U.S. following hurricane Mitch in Honduras in 1998 and an earthquake in El Salvador in 2001 – is at risk of termination in 2018.

Likewise, on 5 September, President Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, created by the Obama administration to defer deportation and provide work permits to 800,000 undocumented migrants who entered the U.S. as minors. President Trump suggested that Congress should use the six-month wind-down period before the DACA work permits expire to create a legislative framework for the program. But, under pressure from some of the administration’s staunchest supporters, the White House has made clear that it will only support such legislation if Congress also enacts tough new immigration measures. How the legislative process will play out is not yet clear.

Although overall deportations by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) are reported to have fallen slightly – they reached 211,068 as of 9 September 2017, three weeks before the end of the fiscal year, as compared to 240,255 in FY 2016 – arrests of undocumented migrants have risen by 43 per cent since Trump took office, as compared to the same period the year before. Most strikingly, the number of migrants without a criminal record being detained has increased threefold since 2016.

Mexican and Central American responses

An increase in deportations – driven by arrests of undocumented migrants and expiry of the TPS and DACA – would place further strains on troubled social conditions in the Northern Triangle. Although the region has relatively robust legal frameworks to protect refugees, with Mexico at the forefront of international refugee and migrant protection efforts, they frequently are unable to provide what they preach.

For instance, asylum in Mexico can be a prolonged process. Out of 8,788 requests, only 5,954 were resolved in 2016, 3,076 of which were granted. Asylum-seekers must file requests within 30 days of crossing the border, and are kept in detention if arrested before applying. Many give up because of the detention centers’ cramped and insalubrious conditions, or because they have no right to work while their requests are being considered.

Overall, the [Northern Triangle] countries are not adequately equipped to receive new deportees.

Overall, the NTCA countries are not adequately equipped to receive new deportees. El Salvador’s preparations to receive them are almost entirely restricted to the monitoring of suspected gang activities. The National Assembly’s security commission has agreed on measures to track returnees accused of being street-gang members: over 500 suspected gang members have been sent back so far in 2017 to El Salvador, where high rates of violent crime and reported cases of extrajudicial execution of gang members complicate prospects of a return to peaceful civilian life.

Capacities to provide legal counsel, shelter, social reintegration or even transportation for returnees across the Northern Triangle are scant. Proposed legislation in Guatemala to strengthen the state’s readiness to protect migrants has stalled because of that country’s political crisis. In Honduras, the number of departing refugees and arriving deportees is the highest in the NTCA, but its government is concentrating on the president’s re-election campaign and on activating its own protocols against deported gang members.

Recommendations to the European Union and its member states

The more U.S. concerns about security and the economic effects of mass migration continue to drive a restrictive immigration policy, the more important it will be – from both a humanitarian and regional stability perspective – for the U.S. and its partners to help generate economic opportunities, better governance and broader social protection south of the U.S. border. That was the logic behind the “Alliance for Prosperity”, which the Obama administration established jointly with the NTCA governments and pursuant to which some $1.3 billion have been allocated to Central America in the 2017 and 2018 federal budgets. Today, that logic is at risk. A June 2017 high-level summit in Miami on prosperity and security in the NTCA, heralded a far stronger emphasis on security issues at the expense of recognition of the humanitarian emergency related to undocumented migration.

While the European Union (EU)’s role is limited due to the U.S.’s overwhelming influence in the region, it nonetheless could strengthen humanitarian responses and press for a more informed, integral approach to the protection of migrants, especially women and children. Migration forms a significant part of the EU’s cooperation with Latin America. The 2015 EU-CELAC Action Plan as well as the 2014-2020 Multiannual Indicative Regional Programme for Latin America include migration management and the protection of migrant rights as action points. So far, the EU’s initiatives in this field have focused on Latin America as a whole. However, the evolving migration dynamics in the NTCA call for a more targeted response. The EU should adapt its priorities in Central America and promote migration policies that focus on the protection and integration of migrants.

Technical assistance and capacity-building support for the under-resourced Central American consulates situated on the migrant route through Mexico would help ensure better protection for those in transit.

The EU should support Mexican and Northern Triangle authorities in their efforts to strengthen oversight of security agencies and state institutions working on migrant issues. Technical assistance and capacity-building support for the under-resourced Central American consulates situated on the migrant route through Mexico would help ensure better protection for those in transit. The initiative MIgration EU eXpertise (MIEUX), a peer-to-peer experts’ facility that supports partner countries to better manage migration through tailor-made assistance, can be a useful platform and starting point for the exchange of expertise and best practices.

The EU could also boost technical support to expand refugee processing of NTCA nationals in neighbouring countries (mainly Belize and Costa Rica), particularly minors, and ensure regional governments and NGOs provide adequate shelter to those awaiting decisions. Financial and logistical support to neighbouring countries such as Panama and Costa Rica, as well as to other Latin American countries that agree to take a share of refugees, would help cushion the impact of increasingly forbidding U.S. immigration policies.

All in all, the EU should continue to pursue an approach to Central America grounded in supporting community violence prevention, institutional reform and poverty alleviation. Perhaps most urgently, it should assist the three Northern Triangle countries in developing new programs to help them reintegrate deportees, including through initiatives to help them access health care, training, employment and psychosocial support when necessary.