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CrisisWatch Guatemala

Unchanged Situation

Political crisis pitting citizens defending anti-corruption campaign and International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) against Congress and President Morales continued. Congress 11 Sept upheld president’s immunity from prosecution; 13 Sept altered agenda of Congress’ ordinary session and overwhelmingly approved reforms to penal code under the pretext of “national urgency”. Reforms included modifications to rules on illegal financing of politics clearing prominent party leaders from investigations for possible wrongdoing during 2015 campaign, making jail sentences for corruption crimes commutable for fines. Widespread perception of Congress’ actions as impunity pact among political class produced outrage, mobilising thousands to protest. Constitutional Court 14 Sept ruled Congress’ decisions unlawful. Congress met next day to backtrack; hundreds of protesters stopped deputies from leaving premises for nine hours. Series of marches against deputies took place across country 20 Sept, drawing estimated 200,000 people; several govt ministers resigned 19 Sept. Congress 21 Sept again voted to uphold president’s immunity from prosecution but kept request available for future consideration. Revelations emerged 12 Sept of $6,850 monthly bonus paid to President Morales by defence ministry, further undermining support for president.

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Crutch to Catalyst? The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala

Dramatic changes upended Guatemalan politics in 2015. Forcing the pace were international prosecutors, bolstered in their fight against corruption and impunity by a great wave of support from ordinary citizens. If Guatemala’s national reforms continue when outside help leaves, it can become a true role model for the region.

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Arturo Matute

Analyst, Guatemala

Sofía Martínez Fernández

Analyst, Northern Triangle