This is the Colombian lawyer who has shaken Latin American politicians

Iván Velásquez has been responsible for being a nuisance to the spheres of power in Latin America

This is the Colombian lawyer who has shaken Latin American politicians

United Nations has insisted that Colombian lawyer Iván Velásquez, head of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), performs his functions from outside the Central American country. It was not the only call for the lawyer's return, as the Constitutional Court ordered the decision to be reversed.

Leer en español: El abogado colombiano que ha hecho temblar a los políticos latinoamericanos

Guatemala has become a political mess since the government of Jimmy Morales asked the Guatemalan immigration authorities to prevent Velásquez from entering the country. The lawyer, from the CICIG, has been in charge of investigating illegal security entities, mainly, but also of observing crimes of corruption in Guatemala. Since his arrival in 2013, he became an obstacle  for power, having led the CICIG in large investigations of cases of corruption in the last two governments.

The one that had the greatest impact was that of the well-remembered case of "La Línea", which splattered former President Otto Pérez Molina and his vice president Roxana Baldetti in 2015. They received bribes to grant contracts with the State and in the process, the Guatemalan treasury also was embezzled. The investigation resulted in the resignation of Pérez Molina, Baldetti, and their subsequent imprisonment.

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At that time, President Pérez Molina asked that the mandate of CICIG be extended up to 2017, while he was involved in the scandal of "The Line". The scenario was repeated last August, when the Commission presented a preliminary hearing against President Jimmy Morales for alleged illicit financing in his 2015 election campaign. Morales also asked that the mandate of CICIG be renewed until September 2019.

However, Velásquez's career is not limited to the research work of CICIG. When he was an assistant magistrate in the Supreme Court of Justice in Colombia in 2006, he coordinated the investigations of politicians for links with paramilitaries, even after processes of demobilization of these illegal groups. Within that process, the then Colombian president, Álvaro Uribe Vélez, accused Velásquez of offering legal benefits to a paramilitary leader for implicating the president in the assassination plot of another paramilitary chief.

Not only his investigations have annoyed the former president and today senator Álvaro Uribe, but due to the case of the so-called "Parapolitics", more than 50 congressmen were imprisoned, and there are still processes in force.

It is understandable the concern of the UN and the Constitutional Court for the departure of Velásquez, since corruption in Guatemala is so flagrant that the CICIG is no longer primarily responsible for its objective of investigating illegal security groups. The corrupt have found in the independent body a scourge for fraudulent practices within the State.

Here is the worrying thing, the most resonant cases of corruption came to light thanks to the work of the CICIG. A possible withdrawal of this organism would leave this type of investigations for the ordinary Guatemalan justice, which is not necessarily of concern. The difference between the CICIG and the justice of Guatemala is the independence status and international support of the former. Cases like "The Line" or the illegal financing of the Jimmy Morales campaign could go ahead as it might not. That is why it is imperative that CICIG and Velásquez remain in the country.


LatinAmerican Post | Iván Parada Hernández

Translated from "Este es el abogado colombiano que ha hecho temblar a los políticos latinoamericanos"

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