For Guatemalans, 2021 will be marked by a resurgence of bad governance, corruption and the consolidation of the co-optation of all state institutions. The legacy left by the citizens’ campaigns of 2015 against then-President Otto Pérez Molina and his Vice-President, Roxana Baldetti, has been truncated after the assaults of now-former President Jimmy Morales and his circle of power against the Commission of the United Nations against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and the institutions that have led this fight.
Reversing the legacy of CICIG
With the rise of Alejandro Giammattei, the situation has not improved. The current president was elected in an election that supposedly confronted two politico-ideological conceptions, but in reality it was a dispute between two groups with the same unfair intentions to convert the state into their personal piñata.
Despite the negative context, the investigations carried out by the CICIG, cleared of windows and expelled, continued against all odds under the direction of prosecutor Juan Francisco Sandoval, of the Special Prosecutor’s Office against corruption. But over time, they have lost credibility due to the brazen co-optation of the prosecution by the politico-business group that accompanies Giammattei.
Thus, the discourse of support for the fight against corruption has gradually turned into a simple rhetoric empty of content and intentions, through an unfair fight against the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Corruption and Impunity (FECI), which prevented him from moving forward. Especially when the investigations of prosecutors and their assistants have approached the president, his intimate group and, above all, his secular interests.
The President’s Secret Agreements
According to statements by former prosecutor Sandoval, who self-exiled, Attorney General Consuelo Porras hampered his investigations in every way imaginable, legal or otherwise. But the climax, according to specialists, was the investigation into the arrival in Guatemala of two private planes registered from Russia and Kazakhstan, which had transferred businessmen from these countries to the country to agree to ” mutual favors with President Giammattei himself.
According to sources who prefer not to reveal their identity, the supply of Sputnik V vaccines has been negotiated within this framework. However, they had also negotiated exploration licenses and mining rights in the east of the country, as well as a concession in one of the country’s main ports.
Ironically, these would be contracts very similar to those signed under Otto Pérez Molina’s administration, which resulted in investigations into the payment of millions of bribes by the deposed and passionate former private secretary Pérez. Molina.
the multinational strike
The unease of many Guatemalans, outraged by the dismissal of prosecutor Juan Francisco Sandoval, as well as the mismanagement of the pandemic, has so far been mainly visible in publications on social networks and civil society organizations. However, the role of indigenous peoples increased, which led to the multi-national strike on July 29.
The mobilization of more than 200,000 people, which led to around 90 blockades, was led by the indigenous group 48 Cantones de Totonicapán. Its 35-year-old general secretary, Martín Toc, is starting, according to Guatemalan social officials, to establish itself as a reference within popular movements.
So far, those who have not taken a clear position are the chambers that unite the business sector and play an important role in the Guatemalan economy. Some think they are waiting for the course of events, while others think they will keep their usual complicit silence in the face of the follies of politicians and state officials.
Washington’s ambiguous position
The US State Department has published official and unofficial comments condemning the contempt for the independence of the Guatemalan judiciary. However, so far Washington has not taken the matter further.
Under the pretext of not being able to act directly in the internal affairs of a sovereign state, the current occupants of the White House seem for the moment to weigh how far they can put pressure on the only president of the troubled Northern Triangle who does not do not escape them. While the State Department views Salvadoran Nayib Bukele as a thorn in the side and Honduran Juan Orlando Hernández as an outgoing president, Giammattei is the only incumbent seen as their partner remaining in the region.
the immediate future
On August 9, another round of protests took place and are believed to continue. But it is to be expected that the national government’s response will continue in the direction of entrenchment and deaf ears while consolidating its interests through all kinds of corruption.
In addition, it is to be expected that the circle of politico-institutional power will focus on eliminating the figure of Jordán Rodas, human rights prosecutor, who is considered the only major obstacle to the achievement shots of the group co-governing with Giammattei.
New calls from social organizations could lead to more instability. But on the other hand, it would also further delay the arrival of the potential investments that are so necessary to overcome the economic crisis made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic.
* Translation from Spanish by Maria Isabel Santos Lima
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