Carolina Gamazo writes a helpful piece in FACTum to give some background to the current crisis in Guatemala.
The underlying thing is that Morales wanted to put a stop to attempts to prosecute him for illicit financing. Within hours of his attempt to expel Iván Velásquez, three ministers had resigned and the Constitutional Court had defied him.
1. CICIG made charges against the family of Morales following an investigation into fraud regarding a property registration. This was made against the brother and son of the President. On the 12th August, preliminary evidence was accepted in court and the case is now to go to court. Both are accused of fraud and the President’s brother s also accused of money laundering.
2. Velásquez wished to withdraw the President’s immunity in response to a case of illicit electoral financing – what Velásquez termed the ‘original sin of democracy in Guatemala’. He first went after the leaders of the UNE and Líder political parties then, the following day, it was announced that the leaders of FCN were being investigated. This was made public the same time that Morales went to the UN in New York. As Morales wished to expel Velásquez through this trip, Velásquez was making public his wish to remove the President’s immunity.
3. The Constitutional Court restrains the President following a request from lawyers of civil society organisations in Guatemala in response to the President’s announcement to expel Velásquez. The Court met the following morning and agreed to the appeal by a margin of 3-2.
4. The international community affirms support to Velásquez, including from the Secretary General of the UN and through a joint communication from international ambassadors. There was also strong institutional support for Velásquez in Guatemala, in the form of the Human Rights Ombudsman, the Archbishop of Guatemala, and the University of San Carlos, where this support was given in a joint press conference.
5. The President quickly lost two Ministers as well as the head of Municipal Development. The Foreign Minister, Carlos Raúl Morales, was removed for failing to expel Velásquez and the Health Minister, Lucrecia Hernández Mack, resigned. The President named Sandra Jovel to replace the Foreign Minister but it seems she has skeletons in her closet. Enrique Godoy, head of Municipal Development also resigned.
6. State of Siege has been dismissed by the army. This had been a fear in the last couple of days. It wishes to be seen on the side of legality and as there is no Constitutional crisis, there is as yet no role for them in this.
7. Congress is divided over withdrawing the President’s immunity. As the law stands, two thirds of the members of Congress have to approve the move. That is, 105 of the 158 members is needed. Morales needs 53 votes to stop the impeachment process. It is not clear that he can count on that number of votes.
You can read the full piece, in Spanish, by Carolina Gamazo, here, in FACTum.