Vice-President resigns amid continued protests

Following on from the arrests in relation to the massive tax and customs fraud in Guatemala which seemed to ensnare the Vice-president, Roxana Baldetti, comes the news this week of her resignation (in the services of the people!).

In announcing the resignation, the President, Otto Pérez Molina stated the she resigned only in the interest of submitting herself and collaborating with the necessary investigations and to cooperate in the due process. She is making herself available to clarify her non-participation in the criminal ring, ‘La Linea’. What he forgot to say and what the Finance Minister has subsequently mentioned is that she is entitled to compensation (for services to the people!).

However, legal proceedings are under way and let’s hope she is not allowed to flee the country to join her private secretary, wherever he may be. Juan Carlos Monzón continues to be a fugitive.

The news was greeted by another large demonstration in the Capital and elsewhere in Guatemala. There is the sense that the powers intend for this to be the end of the story and that people should get back to their lives and stop being obstructive. This is not over yet, as thousands continually call for the resignation of the President.

Thousands of people in the Capital and elsewhere in Guatemala have been mobilising since 25th April demanding an end to corruption, repression and impunity for government functionaries, judges and lawyers. More demonstrations continue to be organised breaking the fear and silence in the face of so much abuse from the controlling class.

What is particularly striking this time is that it has been many years since large mobilisations of the urban middle-classes took place. You have to go back to the large student demonstrations of 1999 regarding the high costs of urban transport and back to the 1960s.

Adding further fuel to the fire was the announcement that legal proceedings are being taken against the judge Marta Josefina Sierra González de Stalling for obstructing the investigation into some of those charged over the customs fraud. It seems that some lawyers, also arrested, had bribed the judge with regards to the cases against their clients.

It is quite striking how firm seem to be the actions of CICIG after a relatively quiet period.

You can read more from Renata Avila (in English) here, Quimy De León, and Prensa Comunitaria (both in Spanish), here and here. For more on the background, you can read here.

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Categories: Justice

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