Guatemala bids goodbye to UN anti-graft body as it wraps up

GUATEMALA CITY — Guatemala said goodbye Tuesday to a U.N. commission that has helped investigate and prosecute hundreds of corrupt politicians, public officials and businesspeople over the last 12 years.

The commission, known as CICIG for its initials in Spanish, ceased its operations after President Jimmy Morales refused to renew its mandate for another two years.

Human rights prosecutor Jordán Rodas said CICIG was a nightmare for those long accustomed to getting away with brazen malfeasance.

Addressing the commission’s chief, Iván Velásquez, Rodas said: “You and all the great team at the International Commission against Impunity should know that the majority of the Guatemalan population acknowledges your work and thanks you for your commitment over the years.”

Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said in a statement that CICIG “made a decisive contribution to strengthen the rule of law as well as investigation and prosecution capacities in Guatemala.”

Guterres “trusts that efforts to fight impunity will continue and expresses the UN’s readiness to continue co-operating with Guatemala in strengthening the rule of law,” Dujarric continued. “The Secretary-General expects that the rights of those involved in the fight against impunity in Guatemala will be protected.”

Morales announced Aug. 31, 2018, that CICIG would not get a new mandate, giving it until Tuesday, the end of its current term, to wrap up and leave.

The commission and Guatemalan prosecutors had tried to lift the immunity from prosecution that Morales enjoys as a sitting president to investigate him for possible illicit electoral financing, though the legislature declined to do so. They had also brought a case against Morales’ son and brother.

Morales denies wrongdoing, and his son and brother were exonerated by a court last month.

President-elect Alejandro Giammattei, who will take office in January, said judging the president’s decision to kick CICIG out of the country will be a question for posterity.

“I thank it for the years it was here, for better or for worse for what it has done, for the experiences it has left us. They left us some convictions. They left us the need to fight together to reconstruct our institutions,” Giammattei said.

“I cannot say whether President Jimmy Morales was wrong or was not right,” the president-elect added. “History will be the judge.”

Giammattei said that during his administration he will push for the creation of an anti-corruption commission tasked with punishing such conduct and proposing reforms to avoid it. He said it will be made up of people not from his government but rather named by a council with representation from all sectors of society.

CICIG’s work led to prosecutions of three ex-presidents, including Otto Pérez Molina, who was forced to resign in 2015, and his then-vice-president, Roxana Baldetti.

The commission helped disband 70 criminal networks and brought allegations against 1,540 people, some 670 of whom were prosecuted. It won 400 convictions and 100 requests to lift officials’ immunity from prosecution.

On Monday, police arrested former first lady and two-time presidential runner-up Sandra Torres, after her own immunity from prosecution expired following her loss to Giammattei last month. CICIG and prosecutors first presented a complaint against Torres earlier this year. She called her arrest “political persecution.”

Convergence for Human Rights, an umbrella group for civil society organizations, also praised CICIG’s work.

“From its beginning in 2007 and over the course of 12 years, the entire team and the commissioners were a bastion for the fight against impunity and corruption,” the group said. “Through their work they put name and face to the networks and structures that profit off the state. … Guatemala will not be the same, since it has been able to see the face of corruption.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


File photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS An activist paints a mural on a wall at the United Nations International Commission Against Impunity, CICIG, headquarters in Guatemala City. The UN mission is closing its operation after 12 years.

Just Posted

Scheer appears to backtrack on commitment to not allow debate on abortion

OTTAWA — Conservative leadership candidate Peter MacKay once called social-conservative causes a… Continue reading

Eclectic artistic visions shown during First Friday in March

Exhibits range from birds and dinosaurs, to poetic medical journeys

Coronavirus fear touches off a global run on face masks

Fear of the spreading coronavirus has led to a global run on… Continue reading

Statistics Canada says economic growth slowed to 0.3% annual pace in Q4

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says economic growth slowed in the fourth quarter… Continue reading

Tories call on government to compensate dairy farmers ‘left behind’ in new NAFTA

OTTAWA — The Conservative opposition says the government must compensate dairy farmers… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: Tammy’s big makeover

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Your community calendar

Feb. 19 A Liberation of Holland event is being held at the… Continue reading

Canadian Jonathan David scores again as Gent ties Roma in Europa League play

GHENT, Belgium — Canadian Jonathan David, who had a hat trick in… Continue reading

Coronavirus scuttles pre-Olympic camp for Canada’s women’s water polo team

TORONTO — Canada’s women’s water polo team was scheduled to be on… Continue reading

Virus fears lead K-pop superstars BTS to cancel Seoul shows

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — K-pop superstars BTS cancelled an upcoming concert… Continue reading

The prince and the pop star work on charity single in London

LONDON — Prince Harry joined Jon Bon Jovi at Abbey Road Studios… Continue reading

Granlund beats buzzer, scores in OT as Preds beat Flames 4-3

Predators 4 Flames 3 (OT) NASHVILLE — The Nashville Predators gambled that… Continue reading

Ministers wrap pipeline talks with hereditary chiefs for the day in B.C.

SMITHERS, B.C. — The hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en sat down Thursday… Continue reading

Gardening: Taking a break from the winter

Looking for a break from winter and dream of summer without leaving… Continue reading

Most Read