Yesterday, 26th August 2017, through a recorded message and shared through social media, the President of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales, announced his decision to to expel the head of CICIG (International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala), Iván Velásquez, from the country. The message was sent just as morales returned to Guatemala from New York where he met with the head of the UN, ostensibly to ask that the UN remove Velásquez from his position.
Considering the President’s links to the use of electoral financing is under investigation by both the Attorney General and CICIG, his statement comes out of a world articulated by Miguel Angel Asturias but which, unfortunately, is all too real for people in Guatemala.
“As President of the Republic, for the interests of the people of Guatemala, for the strengthening of the rule of law, and its institutions, I am declaring Iván Velásquez, in his position as head of [CICIG], persona non grata, order that he leave Guatemala immediately.”
Two years ago, today, massive crowds gathered in front of the Presidential Palace seeking the resignation of the previous President, Otto Pérez Molina, a demand that was met. Many from his administration are being investigated alongside their chief for corruption on a massive scale.
Last evening, many people gathered together, including representatives of indigenous organisations and student bodies, demanding the resignation of Morales and offering support to CICIG and the Attorney General’s office.
It has been also been announced that the Minister of Health, Lucrecia Hernández Mack, has resigned, as has also the Minister of Employment, Aura Lucia Teleguario. In addition, he fired his Minister of Foreign Relations, who had said he would resign if the president ordered the expulsion of commissioner Velásquez.
When Morales was heading to New York, the Attorney General, Thelma Aldana, and CICIG were asking that the President’s immunity to prosecution as lifted. The issue revolved around campaign financing in the elections where Morales won the ballot in 2015. He ran with FCN-Nación party backing, a party that was created by hard-line counterinsurgency military officials, with the purpose of protecting themselves against prosecution. Many were involved in gross violations of human rights during the internal armed conflict, as well as organized crime, drug trafficking, and corruption.
The international community, represented by ambassadors, has rallied round to show support to Velásquez as well as Guatemalan civil society and key institutions, including the Human Rights Ombudsman’s office.
An injunction was sought at the Constitutional Court this morning to halt the expulsion of Velásquez, and this was successful by a margin of 3-2. It is expected that the Supreme Court will rule tomorrow on the issue of lifting Morales’s immunity from prosecution.
There are rumours that Morales will declare a State of Siege in response to the protests that are taking place and this would be a drastic step, and a worrying one, considering that he had recently agreed to increase the role of the military in the internal security of Guatemala.
Things are very fluid at the moment.
Via Tito Monterosso, the dinosaurs are mobilising, because they are afraid….