‘How does a former director of prison facilities connected to a massacre end up as president of Guatemala? In the country’s recent history, discontent with the political class has created fertile soil for people claiming to be saviors to take root in the electoral process. Such is the case of Giammattei. Just as in 2015 Guatemalans took a leap of faith on Jimmy Morales, a television comedian billing himself as an untainted political outsider, in the 2019 runoff presidential election, the people chose a conservative demagogue who has already opened up ample space in his cabinet for members of the private sector’s far-right, as well as the same radical military groups who have shaped Guatemala for years. That’s why some analysts, journalists, and human rights activists view Giammattei as the sign of an era of national regression in the fight against corruption.’
It is apparent that significant beneficiaries of the so-called ‘parallel powers’, one of the original targets of CICIG which, in turn, became targets of many people now in the Government of new President Giammettei.
Corruption has found a new home in the new regime and the military and business elites are not showing any signs of reticence in their new positions of power.
Giammettei made great play of rooting out corruption yet fills key roles in his administration with cronies of those same elites. In addition, his supporters went to great pains to create an alliance among biddable members of Congress so that his allies effectively control the legislative body. This is being put to use, early in his term, in passing the so-called NGO Law which seeks to control and limit civil society in Guatemala.
By any measure, Guatemala looks to be going back to the corruption of previous, and not too distant, eras.
Gabriel Labrador finely discusses these points in the new, and welcome, El Faro English edition website, here. The translation is by Roman Gressier.