HomeNewsAnalysisInSight Crime Podcast | The Presidents' Judge
ANALYSIS

InSight Crime Podcast | The Presidents' Judge

COLOMBIA / 18 SEP 2018 BY INSIGHT CRIME EN

If you ever met the Colombian judge Iván Velásquez, you would not think he is the giant-slayer that he is.

The person who is the head of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comision Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala – CICIG) is soft-spoken and deep thinker. He takes long pauses before he speaks and you are often left to divine what is going on inside his head, but he does not say much even when he does talk.

Yet, the judge has taken on five presidents in his time as a judge, a prosecutor and now as the commissioner of the controversial CICIG, which has been part of the prosecution of four current and ex-presidents of Guatemala.

What was it that made Velásquez such a president-slayer? We should start with the fact that he is from Medellin, Colombia, the epicenter of so many battles in Colombia’s half-century of wars. First, it was the guerrilla war. Then it was the war against Pablo Escobar. And finally, it was the war involving the right-wing paramilitaries.

In the early 1990s, Velásquez was the ombudsman of the department of Antioquia, where he had to investigate government actors who had employed a dirty war against Pablo Escobar. Later in the same decade, he headed up a team of prosecutors who were investigating and prosecuting paramilitary organizations.

The battles prepared him for his time on Colombia’s Supreme Court, where he led the investigative wing with the power to prosecute congressmen. Velásquez and his team started what became known as the “parapolitics” investigation, in which they jailed and sentenced numerous congressmen for their ties to the paramilitary groups.

Some of the congressmen were allies of then-President Álvaro Uribe. One of the congressmen was Uribe’s cousin. In what would become a pattern, the president and his allies tried to smear the judge. But Velasquez survived, even outlasting Uribe.

In 2013, he became commissioner of the CICIG. The commission had already been in Guatemala for six years and most thought he would simply set up a nice exit ramp. Instead, he created an ambitious agenda that has led to the prosecution of two current and two ex Guatemalan presidents, and that is when the real fun began.

Hosted by Héctor Silva Ávalos and Steven Dudley. Edited by María Paola Martínez. Produced by Steven Dudley.

Listen to the podcast here:

share icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ELITES AND CRIME / 10 DEC 2018

A new investigation alleges that one of the most influential evangelical pastors in Guatemala took money from a high-profile drug…

COCAINE / 14 OCT 2020

The number of destroyed illegal airstrips and the volume of seized cocaine in Honduras this year are set to surpass…

COLOMBIA / 31 AUG 2011

Colombia's Norte del Valle drug cartel has been laundering money through a network in Ecuador, according to the Ecuadorian…