Note to the “SPO” by Guatemala
By Denko Maleski
After three decades of civil war, dictatorship and rise of drug business, the main problem of Guatemala, a country in Central America, was the absence of the rule of law and the widespread corruption networks. How to help the unhappy people? Supported by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union, the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, known as CICIG, began to function in 2007. The goal was to support the young democracy, deformed by abuse of power for personal wealth at the expense of the poor people, in the construction of the rule of law. Strengthening the prosecution and the judicial system and sending politicians, businessmen and organized crime leaders to jail, the Commission gained great reputation among the people. Two presidents ended behind bars, Otto Perez Molina and Alvaro Colom, along with several ministers. The people celebrated the work of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala.
But there is no joke with the current president, former comedian, populist Jimmy Morales, who came to power in 2016. The slogan with he ran his election campaign was “Neither corrupt, nor a thief”. People’s anger over the behavior of the traditional elite, the arrest of the then president and vice-president accused of corruption and the support from the military and the police resulted in Morales’ great victory, with over 67 per cent of the vote. But the relations with the Commission got worse when it raised allegations of corruption and money laundering against his brother and his son, and the police arrested them. Demonstrations on the president’s resignation did not make Morales change his mind in the intention to deal with the Commission. Commission President Ivan Velasquez, who started an investigation into “allegations that his party had taken illegal donations during the elections, including money from drug trafficking”, and “demands the Commission to remove his immunity”, was expelled from the country. Using the clause from the time of the formation of the Commission, that its work is periodically renewed, the president decided to abolish it. Recently, on January 7, he gave 24 hours to members of the Commission, composed of domestic and foreign experts, to leave the country. The country’s constitutional court, meanwhile, annulled the president’s decision. He refused to comply with the Court’s decision. A constitutional crisis is underway. The Commission continues to work in exile.
Meanwhile, the Guatemalan president came out with a proposal for a full amnesty for all convicts, including those convicted of the worst crimes of the dictatorship. A new law on reconciliation has been submitted to the Congress, which should ensure impunity even for crimes against humanity, including genocide, rape and enforced disappearance. In an attempt to win the support of the generals and the former governing body, Morales envisions the release within 24 hours of the law’s promulgation. The law is now in parliament and a vote is being prepared. The explanation is that “if true peace and reconciliation is desired, there must be general amnesty for all participants in the military conflict”. Complaining about “a kind of court abuse of only one of the participants in the conflict, the army”, the old political class seeks amnesty. The so-called Lighting Commission, in turn, has found that in 93 per cent of cases, the government was responsible for human rights violations during the Guatemalan armed conflict, while only 3 per cent accounted for the guerrilla forces.
What, in fact, is behind the President Morales’ “concern for past sins”? The new coalition of military, business and political interests, which wants to force the Commission to stop investigations of organized crime, human rights violations and corruption today. Why? To re-dominate Guatemalan politics and society. Namely, although the Commission is not responsible for the crime committed in the past, the mere fact that its work has freed the prosecution and the judiciary from corruption threatens those who have committed crime ever and now. Thus, in addition to criminals today, the amnesty also includes such as Benedicto Lucas Garcia, former head of the military, and Manuel Callejas, head of the security services serving a 58-year prison sentence for the most horrible crimes – crimes against humanity.
This amnesty law is a violation of justice and truth, says the democratic public in Guatemala.
*The text is written exclusively for the purposes of Inbox 7. For each republishing, a consent by the editors must be obtained. Inbox 7 does not always agree with the opinions and views of the authors in the debate section.
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