Seven Incendiary Questions About Guatemala’s Political Crisis

Photo: Oliver de Ros – No-Ficción website

The institutional crisis derived from the citizens’ rejection of the 2021 Budget has broader roots and ramifications. Among these is the excessive use of the police force, the conflict between decisions of the Executive and resolutions of the Constitutional Court (and the same division between the Presidency and the Vice Presidency), the lack of legitimacy in the actions of the Congress deputies, the co-optation of the judicial authorities and the very debacle of the party political system. We have chosen the following seven questions to shed some light on the lack of transparency of the past few days.

This is the introduction to an article published recently by No-Ficción on the events in Guatemala over the last few weeks. You can read the original, in Spanish, here, which includes photographs and links. Any errors in translation are mine.

1. Could the failure to comply with the protection order mandated to protect the demonstration cost the Minister of the Interior his job?

By Sofía Menchú

Arbitrarily stopping and beating some protesters and journalists, as well as being deployed against passersby, walking on the night of November 21 (21N) on Sexta Avenida in the Historic Centre, were some of the actions described by the Human Rights Ombudsman (PDH) as “irrational and an excessive use of force” on the part of the National Civil Police (PNC) and the Ministry of the Interior. All of this happened after the Constitutional Court (CC) ordered the Presidency, the Interior Ministry, and the Police to guarantee the right to demonstrate.

“The State forces are ordered to observe the duties that concern it, in relation to the maintenance of public order and citizen security (…) in such a way as to guarantee the exercise of the right to peaceful demonstration, as well as the life and integrity of those who take part in the activity ”, reads the resolution issued by the CC that protected the demonstrations.

This protection was granted at the request of the Human Rights Ombudsman, Jordán Rodas, who requested that the rights of the inhabitants, in the 21N demonstrations, were protected throughout the national territory.

This order of the Court may lead to the dismissal of the Minister of the Interior, Gendri Reyes, in the coming days. This is how the Ombudsman considers it. “The ball is in their (CC) court,” said Rodas. “I know that it is a difficult decision due to the political connotation, but the population would look favourably on a ruling so that these events do not go unpunished. There is a chain of command,” he added. Rodas mentioned that there is a precedent where it is not only the President who can remove a minister – the case against the former Minister of Education, Bienvenido Argueta, during the government of Álvaro Colom. He was removed from his position by order of the CC and at the request of the then deputy Nineth Montenegro.

“What happened with Bienvenido Argueta is that despite the fact that I asked him through a request for access to information of all the data of the Mi Familia Progresa Programme, he denied them to me. I went to appeal and they also denied it. So I sought to exercise my Constitutional right and, through that, he was obliged to give me the information, but he also asked for his dismissal because he had failed in his duty. I don’t know if now there is a comparison”, explained Montenegro.

An empowered CC could arrive at such decisions, on that previous occasion the political pulse with the Executive had the escape valve of recognising the separation of powers and abiding by the resolution. That context, however, is not the same in 2020 after constant pressure on the Court and even the attempted removal of justices Mata Vela and Porras.

The CC’s social communication office indicated that the Court requested reports on their conduct on November 21 from the Presidency, the PNC, and the Interior Ministry. These arrived on Friday, November 27, and from that moment the magistrates had 48 hours to analyse and decide whether or not to impeach Reyes. However, the issue is not scheduled to be heard by the plenary session of magistrates until the week beginning December 7.

“It will depend on the report of the conduct that they have submitted whether they indicate to the Constitutional Court that they had set up a crisis task force, had developed an operational plan, and the reason why Congress was not closed, and if the Court considers it sufficient. I think they will not order the dismissal, unless the Court considers how little they did to guarantee the safety of the protesters”, explained Francisco Rivas, former Minister of the Interior.

At this point for the decision, the CC, which has been divided on controversial issues about the limits of the Executive’s power, is in a quandary. The open contempt for Court resolutions during the administration of former President Jimmy Morales, for example, preventing the return of former CICIG commissioner Iván Velásquez, is one example of this.

A response was sought from the Ministry of the Interior and an interview was requested with the minister, Gendri Reyes, but he did not respond to the request.

2. What happens now for the 2021 Budget?

By Bill Barreto

The approval of the 2021 Budget, done opaquely and without a real technical discussion, was the fuse for the protests on November 21. After the civic discontent, Congress backed down, but the uncertainty remains about how the spending plan for next year will be organized.

The key point is that, although the budget of Q99,700,000,000 (c. US $12,500,100,000) was rejected, when filing it anomalously, the Junta Directiva (JD) of Congress in practice, will start next year with the current budget of Q107,760,000,000. This implies that budget modifications will have to be approved next year, which again go through Congress.

This does not necessarily mean that the cure has been worse than the illness. The civic protests made the ruling alliance backtrack, approving a decree stating that an allocation of Q200 million, to combat malnutrition, had been “forgotten”, and for which an amendment was to be made hurriedly to cover this error. It was also a budget that included Q330 million for a questionable School Insurance Programme, with a contract granted without a proper competition, and without having fulfilled the promised student coverage.

Now, the Executive is obliged to propose amendments so that the programmed expenses correspond with revenues. Querying the Minister of Finance, Álvaro González Ricci, he confirmed to No-Ficción that President Giammattei asked, in the Council of Ministers, that officials find where to make cuts.

“Health, Education or Government will not be touched, but savings will be sought in other institutions,” said the minister. There was no talk of closing any institution, González said. Petitions such as the closure of the Government Centre (Centro de Gobierno) will remain pending. The Ministry of Finance will prioritise the re-approval of the repealed decrees that included loans with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for US $594 million to finance the operation of the State, and that of US $20 million with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) to attend to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Allocations such as the Q600 million to the Departmental Development Councils (Codedes) destined for “new works to reactivate the economy”, according to the budget item, will again be questioned and subject to review.

The environment for these readjustments, however, will not be anything favorable, warns Samuel Pérez, a deputy from Semilla and a member of the Legislative Finance Commission. “The negative incentives are still there” says the congressman of the allocation to the Codedes. “This crisis was generated by the president himself and there are no signs that he wants to conduct a proper discussion, nor cede to demands such as the cancellation of the Government Centre, or the removal of the Minister of the Interior”, warns Pérez.

For his part, the Finance Minister insists that proposals will be received and evaluated before presenting the readjustment of the expenditure plan to the Legislature. Among the organizations convened to present suggestions, however, there is deep skepticism. Ricardo Barrientos, from the Central American Institute for Fiscal Studies (ICEFI), for example, points out that they will publish their proposal for changes, and send it to the Finance Ministry, but they do not see any provision for true dialogue.

Everything comes back to the political arena. The Giammattei presidency revisits a source weakness in the Legislative Branch that FCN-Nación already had with Jimmy Morales – having few elected deputies. Giammattei’s party, Vamos, came to Congress with only 17 seats, just over ten percent of the total number of deputies. This means that it has to weave a network of alliances with parties such as UCN, FCN-Nación, Valor, Viva and even the “Sandrista” bloc of deputies within the UNE, among other parties, to achieve the eighty vote approval figure.

In other words, the aligning of many interests.

The weight of malign incentives should not be forgotten, such as the allocation of works, private deals with the State, and other perks and privileges. However, faced with fatigue from the demonstrations in the capital city, and different departments, the 2021 budget may end up being at the discretion of the Executive, but only at the cost of further eroding the credibility of the Legislature and the Presidency to unprecedented levels since the fall of the government of Pérez Molina.

3. How fares the Junta Directiva of Congress after the budget disaster?

By Bill Barreto

Giammattei’s political defeat when the 2021 budget was buried exposed the weakness of Congress, and in particular of its Junta Directiva, to achieve political agreements and for these to be accepted by the population.

Power is sustained not only by force, but also by the acceptance that an authority has the legitimacy to exercise that force. The decision of Congress to shelve the budget, after an outpouring of citizen rejection, closely resembles the same technique of shelving the reforms to the Penal Code, in 2017, popularly known as the Pact of the Corrupt (Pacto de corruptos).

On that occasion, like now, they tried to avoid portraying a weak president, retracting and vetoing a decree orchestrated in the very bowels of his government. Instead, the Legislative was resorted to passing the embarrassment.

The 2021 Budget “will not be sent to the Executive Branch and the process is suspended for the sake of governability”, said the president of the Legislature, Allan Rodríguez, in a video broadcast on the night of Sunday, November 22, and surrounded by his Junta Directiva (JD). The image of the deputy, on the defensive, appealing that the demonstrations are “part of a destabilizing strategy” showed up the entire body.

The legal and partisan position of some of the members of the Junta Directiva should be remembered to see how questionable their position is:

Its president Allan Rodríguez, from the ruling party Vamos, is a novice in national politics who, after being diagnosed with Covid-19, left the presidency of Congress for two months to the first vice-president, Sofía Hernández, of UCN. The chief leader of Congresswoman Hernández’s party, former presidential candidate Mario Estrada, was captured in the United States on April 17, 2019, accused of drug trafficking.

Another of its members, Felipe Alejos Lorenzana, first secretary, re-elected for next year in the JD, is facing an open investigation for being part of a corruption network in the SAT (Tax Administration) case, and was included in the blacklist of the United States Department of State for participating in “major acts of corruption”, according to Secretary Mike Pompeo.

The fifth secretary, Carlos Santiago Nájera, of the Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza (UNE), faces a process of expulsion from his party. Nájera is part of the “Sandrista” faction of the UNE, important for the election of the current Junta Directiva and the approval of the aborted 2021 budget, with around 30 deputies in its ranks.

Things are not even clear for the new members of the Junta Directiva, who would join in 2021. As an example, there is Deputy Jorge García Silva, from Prosperidad Ciudadana, fifth secretary of the Junta Directiva of Congress, who was denounced by the founder of his own party, Edwin Escobar, to the Attorney General’s Office, the Comptroller General of Accounts, and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, for allegedly having received contracts and posts in Insivumeh in exchange for them obtaining support in the Legislative with the favour of the ‘official alliance (or ruling coalition)’.

The decision of the Junta Directiva to shelve the order of the 2021 Budget, and the same lack of political management of the crisis, led opposition benches, and deputies on their own account, to request the resignation of this body. The Semilla, Winaq, URNG-Maiz, Victoria legislators, a portion of the UNE bloc and other deputies, such as deputies Eduardo Zachrisson, from Partido Avanzada Nacional, and Evelyn Morataya and Andrea Beatríz Villagrán, from Bienestar Nacional, made this call.

Asked about the possibilities for a solution to the conflict, the Winaq block chief, Sonia Gutiérrez, indicated that the only possibility is “citizen mobilization”. “They were left feeling that the failed budget, and the dark, opaque practices and partisan interests unfortunately persist,” she concluded.

Two independent parliamentary sources, one within the opposition deputies and the other within blocs close to the ruling party, agree that the control of the justice function (of the state) continues to be the greatest unifying element within the foggy confusion of those benches that support the government. This, through continuing to delay the election of the members of the Supreme Court of Justice, and the Appeals Chambers, until April, when the Constitutional Court would be relieved.

Beyond that there are internal divisions in blocs such as FCN-Nación and Todos, the latter maintaining an alliance with Unionista, through the personal relationship between the leaders Felipe Alejos and Álvaro Arzú Escobar, and benches like VIVA are doubtful about continuing to support the Executive.

Finally, the division of Congress has its most palpable example in the largest bench, the UNE, whose “Sandrista” faction, now with around 30 deputies, won two places on next year’s Junta Directiva. On the other hand, the group led by deputy Carlos Barreda has dwindled to about 22 congress members, and although they have supported measures such as requesting the dismissal of the Administration, or laying out before the OAS that there is no threat against the constitutional order, they do not show signs of wishing to exhaust themselves in a direct confrontation with the Executive.

4. What does the co-optation of justice have to do with the whole political crisis?

By Gladys Olmstead

The short answer is everything. After Congress delayed the election of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) and the Chambers of Appeals for a whole year, the remaining judges and magistrates have achieved nothing except to erode the credibility and trust placed in them by Guatemalans.

The idea that there are three powers of the State in Guatemala fades a little more with each passing day. The deputies, by refusing to carry out the election, have endangered the justice of the country and the integration of the only court still functioning legitimately, the Constitutional Court (CC), by trying, without success, to unseat two magistrates on the last day of sessions.

Despite the clear and specific need for this election, the state of impunity seems to hold up. No-Ficción spoke with two lawyers and judicial investigators about this delay and its consequences, to understand more about this judicial crisis that has continued throughout the year and from which some are benefiting.

“There are signs of influence of some actors who try to find fault for the benefit of a third party, or their own. And when I speak of a third party, I refer to specific groups themselves, as has been evidenced in accusations by the International Commission against Impunity (CICIG), and the Attorney General’s Office (MP)”, explains Lorena Escobar, coordinator of the Legal Analysis Department of ASIES, justice “is weak in its independence,” she said.

Added to this, continuing without electing courts has consequences. According to lawyer Andrea Reyes, “They could extend another two or three years with the same court to take advantage of those legal processes that could begin in response to all that they are doing”.

The next assault is on the CC.

“The Constitutional Court oversees that the rest of the state agencies comply with what is provided in the constitution: the limits to power, and the protection of citizens against the power of these three agencies. Without an independent actor, who then can set those limits?”, Lorena Escobar wonders in her explanation about the role of the CC.

The independence between the powers of the State is in question. The recent election of Roberto Molina Barreto to the Supreme Court (CSJ) brings with it the memory of past crises:

Andrea Reyes recalls, “when there is a co-option from the CC’s point of view, as happened in the government of Alfonso Portillo (2003), was apart from having the entire Congress at his mercy, because he had a steamroller of a party, they also had the CC co-opted. This allowed for the Constitution to be openly violated with resolutions such as allowing Ríos Montt to participate in the elections”.

The leading role at times that the CC has adopted in recent years and specifically in this election of courts, a year from now, has been well known. It is for this reason that Lorena Escobar considers that, for the actors or groups of power with the official objective of guaranteeing impunity, eliminating any obstacle is a necessity.

This is a point on which both analysts agree, the group of actors interested in perpetuating the crisis seeks impunity, not to be persecuted for illicit acts already committed or for those to be committed.

To control the decisions of the CC, the pro-impunity groups that already run the CSJ could try to get the other chair that needs to be appointed by the Judicial Branch. But “while the deputies do not elect courts, they have every possibility of coercing the magistrates in one way or another with their re-election in exchange for this type of action”, says Reyes.

The delay in the renewal of courts only promotes instability in the country, because having judges who make decisions in an obscure way, and in favor of some, is a problem for all citizens – and a special interest in the rise of movements of social discontent.

Escobar also points out that the lack of judicial independence increases the risk “that we have seen irregular actions against the population by the PNC, and the authorities during the demonstrations, and it is possible that this will worsen, if there are no justices capable of applying a brake”.

A case of justices responding to the interests of private persons was registered, on November 25, when the judge of the Third Criminal court, Mynor Moto, at the request of Dennis Herrera, set two days for Erika Aifán, the High Risk B judge, to provide information on the ‘Parallel Commissions 2020’ case, according to the organization, Guatemala Visible. This case is under caution, but is the one that contains the entire file on the alleged interference in the election of Courts, and the case not assigned to Judge Moto.

However, Dennis Herrera is linked with this, being one of the candidates for judges accused of meeting with Gustavo Alejos to negotiate his election.

This is the type of action that only contributes to a more eroded and discredited CSJ, with no signs of renewal, says Reyes, while also insisting that “the return of Roberto Molina Barreto benefits those actors damaging to the fight against corruption that dominate the CC, and which is no longer the actor it was in May 2020”.

5. Why is there a breakdown between President Giammattei and Vice President Castillo?

By Sonny Figueroa

According to sources in the Executive, the most tense moments between President Alejandro Giammattei and Vice President Guillermo Castillo occurred due to the intention of intervening in the Guatemalan Social Security Institute (IGSS) and the creation of the Presidential Commission of the Centre of Government, an institution heavily criticized.

This estrangement was obvious, but no one publicly acknowledged it until last November 20. The night before the 21N demonstration, Castillo called an impromptu press conference in which he said that his relationship with the president was not good and that both should resign.

“I was elected vice president and together (with Giammattei) we promised to take the reins as the population required. However, it has not been as expected … I want to make very clear the Proposal that I have made to the president, for the good of the country, that we both present our resignation”, Castillo told reporters.

The bad relationship is rooted in the presidential pairing, it is the source, explained the political scientist, Renzo Rosal. During the campaign, the two had a common objective: to arrive at the presidency, but that goal, with the electoral victory, caused the interests to change.

“The separation line comes from the make up of this pairing. Guillermo Castillo comes to the party as a guest and responds to his commitments with financiers. The two have known each other for a long time, but they are not friends. Guillermo campaigned in a low profile with Giammattei as the main actor”, explained the expert.

According to Celia Luna, political scientist of the Association for Research and Social Studies (ASIES), the divorce of the presidential couple is due to the lack of technical experience in the parties – it is accepted that a candidate will need to ingratiate himself with some sector or other.

One of the requests that Castillo made to Giammattei, on November 20, was the closure of the Government Centre because he considers it unnecessary. “I asked the president to break up the Government Centre. It does not bother me, but it provides very little and is not generating anything extraordinary, said the vice president”.

“With the appearance of Miguel Martínez, that actor who meddles in public administration and uses it for his own benefit, that marginalises the vice-president. The coupling today is Alejandro Giammattei and Miguel Martínez, the vice-president is relegated”, explained Renzo Rosal.

The authoritarian nature of President Giammattei was reflected in public disputes with the vice president, such as the leaked discussion of a WhatsApp chat about a meeting set in the minister’s council on the night of Monday, September 28.

Castillo responded that he was excusing himself from that meeting arguing that the president should be in recovery and should delegate the functions to him. “We could have held that meeting well in advance if you had decided to delegate the summoning of the Council of Ministers to me and not selfishly stop it only thinking on the exercise of power,” Castillo told Giammattei at that time.

The very creation of the Government Centre is seen by Rosal as a reflection of the intention of the presidency to isolate and upset the work of Castillo.

This obstruction of Giammattei’s towards Castillo even occurs on social networks. Within the Secretariat of Social Communication of the Presidency, it is known that they are prohibited from sharing information about the vice-president with journalists, or on Facebook and Twitter.

6. What role does the private sector play in this crisis?

By Carolina Gamazo

On November 19, a day after the Congress of the Republic secretly approved the 2021 budget, there was a coming together that had not been seen since 2015. The voice of the organised private sector, represented through CACIF, alongside popular demands, coalesced against the Government.

In this case, the Coordinating Committee of Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial and Financial Associations (CACIF) rejected the new budget, bringing the fiscal deficit to Q30.1 billion, and issued a statement asking for the approved budget to be vetoed.

CACIF described the technical discussion of the budget as “accelerated with opacity and with the intention of avoiding civic observance,” the statement said. At the same time they warned that it was a threat to “macroeconomic control”

Up to that point, the private sector had supported the legislature of Alejandro Giammattei, which could be considered a government with a business ‘vocation’. There was present in the cabinet several representatives close to CACIF, such as the Minister of Finance, Álvaro González Ricci, and the Minister of Economy, Antonio Malouf. Likewise, Vice President Guillermo Castillo, held management positions in the Chamber of Commerce.

However, the levels of debt necessary to finance the new budget, which would exceed one hundred billion quetzals for the first time, are not welcomed by the more liberal or libertarian wing of the organized private sector, with a conservative ideological vision regarding fiscal prudence or indebtedness. The difference between income and expenditure would also imply an increase in pressure on tax collection, something that ultimately translates into paying more taxes and is also contrary to the liberal vision.

It should be remembered that Giammattei became the preferred option of the business community, in the second round of the elections in 2019, when he faced Sandra Torres from UNE. But as happened recently with the government of Jimmy Morales, this support has the cost of defending the interests of the business elite grouping.

The four most obvious factors, according to sources in the economic and political sphere, that influence the support of the country’s economic leadership are:

Firstly, the approval of the first ‘Public Private Partnership’ contract is the 25-year concession of the highway from Escuintla to Puerto Quetzal, a project that has been left stranded for several years, and that would be one of the spoils for the construction sector of this legislature.

Secondly, and again in the field of construction, would be the approval of the Road Infrastructure Law, initiative number 5431, a FUNDESA project that involves “roads through models of payment through access charges” – toll roads.

Thirdly, is a promise reiterated during several governments to the business sector, and that to date, however, has not had any signs of getting into public debate. This is the creation of a regulation for popular consultations on the extraction of natural resources. Of great interest for energy, agro-industrial and mining projects, among others, throughout the country.

What the first three points have in common is that they do not depend only on the support of the Executive, but also on its ability to manage them through the Congress of the Republic, where the lack of expertise of its political operators has been evident.

Lastly, as the fourth important element in the current situation, would be the ability to influence the courts, which also brings the organized private sector closer to the Giammattei government. This translates into the promise that the magistrates of the Constitutional Court, appointed by Alejandro Giammattei, are allied, not only to the Executive but also to the business sector, so protecting themselves against resolutions contrary to their interests.

All these factors are especially of interest among the influential Chamber of Agriculture, the Association of Sugar Producers of Guatemala, ASAZGUA, and the Chamber of Industry.

In addition, the private sector has seen a great recession in the economy this year, due to the global coronavirus pandemic, and how this has determined much of the work of the Executive in recent months. The economic reopening is still an aspect that will largely depend on the restrictions on mobility, and activities of the Presidency, so a direct confrontation between the business elite and the Giammattei government seems unlikely.

None of the Chambers issued any statement condemning the abuse by the police force against the population, or the actions of the PNC. This tacit support of organized businessmen, of CACIF, for the way in which the Government has dealt with the protests, or at least the more conservative wing, maintains the discourse that the demonstrations can be a destabilizing element, immediately identifying them with radical proposals of the left.

The Chamber of Industry itself issued a statement on November 21, under the headline “prudence”, in which they asked “to avoid falling into provocations that endanger legal certainty, the republican system, private property, security and life of the population”, concluding with, “Let’s not allow ourselves to be manipulated by groups interested in destabilisation and generating chaos within the population”.

It can be seen that, to date, the president’s promises to organised businessmen have not ended up being set into laws. The excesses in the Congress resolutions, such as the approval of Congress with clear privileges for legislators at the expense of debt, already millionaires of Guatemala, do not end up fitting in with the more distinctly liberal interests of the private sector. However, business promises or support, by act or omission against corruption investigations, continue to demonstrate the backing of the organized business sector for the president.

7. Is the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) responsible for the existence of this Congress, with actors who make decisions in the dark?

By Oswaldo J. Hernández

The political matrix has doors. Doors such as electoral financing, the registration of candidates, the cancellation, or not, of a political party, the use of the media for the campaign. If you go through those doors you arrive at the Congress of the Republic. You make pacts to be part of the Junta Directiva. You make a proposal on the agenda to approve a budget for the payment of political favors while reducing resources to schools, hospitals and human rights. A key is required for each door. And all those keys are owned by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), which becomes a maker of keys, a locksmith to open the doors of this political matrix.

Without purging the political parties, without adequate supervision, the political matrix becomes contaminated, and institutional crises are arrived at. Crises in which there have been days of protests, for two full weeks, where the population demands the resignation of President Alejandro Giammattei and the deputies.

“The TSE is one of the most important elements in which to understand the current political crisis in the country – what it lets go, what it allows, and what it does not. It has all the keys that configure the arrival of the political actors that occupy the Congress of the Republic”, states the political analyst Renzo Rosal.

Currently, there is a pact of 13 benches (parties) of the 19 that exist in the Legislative body, articulated down from the official party, Vamos, which have demonstrated their self-interest according to their own benefits. These deputies from the parties Vamos, CREO, Bien (faction), Humanista, UCN, Podemos, Viva, Valor, Prosperidad Ciudadana, PAN (faction), FCN-Nación, TODOS, and part of the UNE, had to go through several doors to enter the System.

“Is the TSE responsible for the Congress that we have?” asks Rosal. “Partly yes. Because there are parties that should no longer exist”.

Groups such as UCN, with its leader, Mario Estrada, arrested for drug trafficking in the United States, with 12 deputies, or the party of former president Jimmy Morales, FCN-Nación, with eight representatives, are in the process of being annulled by the TSE because of violating electoral financing regulations. In the same situation are the Visión con Valores (VIVA), Compromiso, Renovación y Orden (CREO) parties, the Partido de Avanzada Nacional (PAN), and the aforementioned Unión del Cambio Nacional (UCN).

For the opposition, outside of the ruling alliance with at least 22 of its 52 deputies, the Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza (UNE), founded by former President Álvaro Colom (2008-12), and his ex-wife Sandra Torres, is also in process of annulment. The Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity (FECI) of the Attorney General’s office (MP) requested this annulment from the TSE in August 2019, following a complaint about irregular financing during the 2015 presidential campaign, where it did not record income and expenditure to the amount of Q27,689,304.

The former TSE magistrate, Eugenia Mijangos, argues that annulling the parties should function as “a mechanism to control the parties, with the aim of creating institutional parties and improving the country’s democracy.”

However, this does not completely change the current scenario within Congress. They would be limited in the making up of the Junta Directiva and the works committees, but apart from requiring a rearrangement, everything indicates that they would maintain their common interests in the control of justice, such as the attempt to unseat two magistrates of the CC (Mata Vela and Porras) and to continue to delay the election of the Courts according to their own self-interest.

For Rosal, the TSE is that locksmith, with lots of keys that have been captured in the last 15 years.

A trend that continued in March 2020, with the election, by Congress, of Mynor Custodio Franco, Ranulfo Rafael Rojas Cetina, Blanca Odilia Alfaro Guerra, Irma Elizabeth Palencia Orellana and Gabriel Vladimir Aguilera Bolaños. The list includes a former CSJ magistrate (Cetina) who held the post, despite being identified in a CICIG investigation of swearing loyalty to two former presidential candidates in criminal proceedings for corruption, Manuel Bladizón and Alejandro Sinibaldi, and that one of the magistrates held the position of mayor of Masagua, Escuintla (Alfaro).

With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in Guatemala, any procedures regarding electoral financing, the registration of candidates, party assemblies, the cancellation or not of a political party, complaints about the use of the media for the campaign, have been closed by decision of the current TSE magistrates. With these doors secured within the political matrix, the deputies of Congress, that is the pro-government party, have managed to control the legislative machinery in their favour and, as a consequence, the discontent and a crisis never seen before for a president with less than 11 months in office.

Categories: Corruption, Environment, Guatemala, Human Rights, Justice, Legal, Natural Disaster, Report, Violence

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