On Thursday, April 27, Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina announced his decision to extend the mandate of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) for two more years. The UN commission, which began its work in 2007, is charged with helping state institutions investigate and tackle corruption and organized crime in Guatemala.
The extension of the CICIG had been under debate for months, and the final decision was made in the midst of a recent political crisis related to a CICIG investigation into a tax fraud ring involving at least 20 top government officials. The commission’s extension has been applauded by several Guatemalan groups as well as actors in the international community, including the US government.
In the wake of a tax corruption scandal, thousands of Guatemalans marched to demand the resignation of President Otto Pérez Molina and Vice President Roxana Baldetti. President Pérez Molina told reporters that he has supported the fraud investigation and does not intend to resign.
One of the officials implicated in the scandal is Juan Carlos Monzón, the personal secretary for Vice President Baldetti. As the case made headlines in Guatemala, Baldetti and Monzón were traveling in South Korea to attend a “private academic activity.” Baldetti reportedly received news of her secretary’s involvement in the crime while in South Korea, after which she fired him and “exhorted” him to return to Guatemala.
Dam Protests Met with Repression
On April 28, a peaceful protest in Chajul, Guatemala was violently broken up by approximately 200 police officers, leading to the arrest of at least 3 community members as well as multiple reported injuries. Residents were protesting the company EnergíaLimpia over the company’s failure to comply with a prior agreement made with families pertaining to the construction of the Xacbal Delta hydroelectric project on community land.
With her father currently on trial for genocide, Zury Ríos Sosa announced that she will run for president of Guatemala in the 2015 elections, accepting the nomination of the Christian conservative Vision with Values Party.
On April 22, the femicide case of Claudina Isabel Velasquez Paiz and others vs. Guatemala was presented before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and the Guatemalan Association of Mayan Attorneys and Notaries presented the 2005 case of the sexual assault and assassination of Velasquez Paiz. The case showcases the Guatemalan government’s failure to properly investigate the crimes and prosecute those responsible.
This article highlights the silencing of local media in the department of Suchitepéquez after three journalists were killed there during the month of March. One of the effects of the attacks has been the self-censorship of local media, while some national outlets have been unable to find correspondents to cover the area.