Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno has written a fine piece, here, in the Los Angeles Review of Books setting out the importance of CICIG in the fight against corruption and impunity in Guatemala, and the forces that coalesced in its ultimate removal.
It is not for nothing that members of the Guatemala Congress, alongside members of the business elite, have been dubbed Pacto de Corruptos and, aided by the other elements of the governing elite, implicitly supported by CACIF, CICIG finally closed its doors in September of this year, with Guatemala’s business sector aggressively lobbying the White House for its removal.
The piece also looks at the Commissioner of CICIG, Iván Velásquez Gómez. A champion of seemingly lost causes, he came to Guatemala with the message, ‘Yo vine a entregar mi corazón…‘ (I came to give my heart…).
CICIG took on the powerful and the La Linea case reached into every corner of the governing elite. La Linea was a massive customs racket in which businesses paid bribes to evade excise taxes. This case led to the downfall of the then President and his Vice-President, in the wake of massive citizen demonstrations.
With the tacit approval of the White House, President Morales, himself and his family touched by more than a whiff of corruption, ended CICIG’s mandate and, during its final week, CICIG released a report describing how the entire Guatemalan state was co-opted by illicit networks.
Before it closed, a brightly painted mural came up on CICIG’s wall, announcing: ‘Gracias CICIG‘ (Thank you, CICIG) and ‘El Pueblo No Olvidará‘ (The people will not forget). In smaller print, a Velásquez quote affirmed: ‘Florecerás Guate‘ (You will bloom, Guatemala).