Next year, President Jimmy Morales vows he will end the mandate of the UN-backed Commission against Impunity in Guatemala. Hugely popular, the commission has helped reduce the country’s terrible murder rate. To keep it going, its supporters should refocus on fighting the worst violent crime.
Govt continued campaign against International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), fuelling political tensions. Foreign Ministry 17 Dec revoked visas and waived diplomatic immunity for eleven CICIG investigators working on corruption cases including those against President Morales for illicit electoral financing; govt gave ten investigators 72 hours to leave country; civil society groups responded demanding resignation of FM Jovel, and Constitutional Court 21 Dec ruled ministry should issue visas by 24 Dec. Ministry 24 Dec filed appeal, clarifying reasons behind its defiance of court’s ruling; CICIG 31 Dec announced govt had renewed visas for the investigators. CICIG chiefIván Velásquez 7 Dec accused political parties of sharing out posts in judicial system, 12 Dec expressed willingness to return to Guatemala in Jan. CICIG and attorney general continued anti-corruption efforts including several arrests on charges of illicit electoral financing 13 Dec. Thousands of Guatemalans continued journeying through Central America and Mexico to reach U.S. despite dangers along route; group of masked men 8 Dec attacked 45 Guatemalan migrants in Veracruz, Mexico, killing one,while two Guatemalan children died in U.S. Border Patrol custody 8 and 25 Dec, causing public outcry. U.S. President Trump 28 Dec threatened to cut “all aid” to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras unless they do more to stop migration.
Central American gangs are responsible for brutal acts of violence, abuse of women and forced displacement of thousands. Governments must go beyond punitive measures and address the social and economic roots of gang culture, tackle extortion schemes and invest in communities.
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.
Ending bloodshed in this neglected border region requires more than task forces: credible institutions, access to state services and continuing security are also needed.
Ensuring a prompt and fair retrial of former dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt is crucial to finally bringing justice to victims of the armed conflict and to reconciling a fragile democracy with its citizens.
The killing of protestors last October was a tragedy foretold by those who have long warned against Guatemala’s use of the armed forces to maintain domestic peace.
Guatemala struggles to adhere to the rule of law. Criminal actors have ways of influencing government decisions that do not produce good conditions for investment or for economic activity in general.
A year after the election of would-be reformer Jimmy Morales as president, corruption investigations are casting a shadow over his inner circle. Recent appointments bring youth and oxygen to his faltering administration, but much still stands in the way of political renewal.
Originally published in Los Angeles Times
Originally published in Miami Herald
Originally published in Semana