Guatemalan citizens across the country are taking to the streets to protest a recent National Assembly decision that made it easier for elected officials to escape punishment for illegally financing elections while reducing prison time for those convicted.
The action comes as three government ministers have stepped down over ongoing political turmoil: Finance Minister Julio Hector Estrada, Labor Minister Leticia Teleguario and Interior Minister Francisco Rivas. They agreed to remain in their posts until replaced.
The nationwide protest, declared a “national strike,” is also being held to protest a decision to impede the U.N. International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, Cicig, investigation into President Jimmy Morales. The former comedian is being accused of illegally financing his 2015 presidential campaign.
The protest is coordinated by the social movement Justice Now, which was formed in 2015 to end political corruption and impunity in Guatemala. The movement includes hundreds of civil society organizations, universities, high schools and businesses throughout the country.
Anti-government protests have been held almost daily since Sept. 15.
Protesters are demanding that Guatemala’s electoral laws be reformed in order to combat government impunity. They are also demanding that National Assembly members who voted in favor of last week’s decision step down.
Three weeks ago, Morales tried to expel Cicig Director Ivan Velasquez, a move which the Guatemalan Supreme Court blocked. Velasquez is not only investigating the president for an unaccounted US$825,000 during his election campaign, but also his son and brother, who are both suspected of being involved in the mishandling of funds.
During his opening speech to the 72nd U.N. General Assembly in New York, Morales hailed the work of Cicig, adding that he hoped to “improve the commission’s role by ensuring due prosecution, presumption of innocence and to avoid selective prosecution and the politicization of justice.”
Telesur | Wednesday, 20 September, 2017