Despite social protests against President Jimmy Morales, Congress has shown its support and seems to be protecting him from various investigations
Leer en Español: Guatemala exige la renuncia presidencial
The Guatemalan Congress prevented, once again, the initiation of a criminal investigation against President Jimmy Morales. Senators were asked, using their suffrage, if they would like to withdraw Morales’ governmental immunity or keep the country’s leader protected under law. The result confirmed that the number of votes were not sufficient to withdraw the protection from the Guatemalan president, who is currently being accused of corruption by the government itself and the International Commission Against Impunity of the UN.
70 lawmakers voted in favor of taking Morales' immunity away and 42 voted against; 105 votes were needed to reach the goal. In the first attempt to vote, which took place a week earlier, only 25 of the 158 congressmen wished for the president to be investigated, but the pressure exerted by society raised concerns, even though the results were not in their favor.
The Guatemalan president, in an official statement, stated his respects of the decision of Congress and that the ruling "must be understood within the context of the independence of public powers". However, the statement comes out after Morales had already publicly thanked the deputies for maintaining their immunity. Despite the victory of Morales, he will have to replace three of his ministers since they resigned due to the crisis in which the executive branch has been submerged.
Despite the result, deputies continue to keep in mind the pressure coming from the streets; the population demands the removal of the president, as well as debugging Congress in order to sanction the congressmen who allow and promote corruption. This initiative emerges after a congressional approval of a type of immunity that protects politicians from corruption investigations, as in the case of the current president. The constitutional court of the country went head on with Congress, while taking into consideration the needs of the public, and overturned the original idea of granting a haven for fraudulent leaders. Thanks to this, citizens feel as if the judicial branch is the only that hasn’t been soiled and still fights for the interest of the Guatemalan people.
The judicial public power has collided twice with the current government. The first confrontation brought down the initiative to remove the head of the anti-corruption commission of the UN (CICIG), Ivan Velasquez. The head of the UN Anti-Corruption Commission has earned the respect and admiration of citizens by clarifying cases of corruption, such as the one that brought the presidency of Otto Perez before the law.
The political crisis in Guatemala was triggered a few weeks ago when President Morales was accused by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal due to anomalies in the party's finances that brought him to power when he was secretary-general. These accusations were the result of investigations carried out by the Prosecutor's Office in the company of CICIG.
In addition to the accusation of corruption, the Comptroller General of Accounts of Guatemala ordered the president to return approximately $ 61,000 of bonuses he received from the army in addition to his monthly salary. On the other hand, his son José Manuel Morales and his brother Samuel Morales are being tried for alleged crimes of fraud and money laundering, which has publicly affected their image.
Latin American Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto