HomeNewsBriefCICIG: Guatemala Faces Challenge of 'Structural Corruption'
BRIEF

CICIG: Guatemala Faces Challenge of 'Structural Corruption'

ELITES AND CRIME / 7 JUN 2016 BY MIKE LASUSA EN

The head of an internationally supported anti-corruption body says Guatemala is facing a problem of "structural corruption," suggesting that allegations of widespread graft in the country's previous presidential administration are anything but isolated incidents.

Iván Velásquez, head of the United Nations-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG), made the comments in a June 6 interview with the radio program "A Primera Hora."

Velásquez spoke about the charges brought last week against former Guatemalan president Otto Pérez Molina and former Vice President Roxana Baldetti, which accuse the pair of accepting illegal campaign contributions to help them win the 2011 election. Once in office, they allegedly returned the illicit favors by awarding public works contracts to donors.

Pérez Molina and Baldetti are currently jailed on corruption charges related to a tax-evasion and bribery scheme known as "La Linea." Pérez Molina is also accused of accepting bribes from a Spanish company in exchange for steering a major port development contract toward that firm.

According to Velásquez, whose organization supported these investigations, the problem of corruption in Guatemala is not limited to Pérez Molina and Baldetti's Patriot Party.

Rather, he said, "it is a corruption that is much more rooted to the point that it could be, hypothetically, that these consolidated structures have remained in the country [and] in the government, and can even reach relationships and understandings with each government, for cyclical corruption."

Velásquez made similar comments in a June 6 interview with German news outlet Deutsche Welle.

"There is no evidence to suggest that the corrupt structures have been dismantled," he said.

InSight Crime Analysis

A source in CICIG who asked not to be identified told InSight Crime that it would take time to address the systemic corruption in Guatemala. The source, who said he was not authorized to speak publicly, called campaign finance "the original sin," adding that once politicians have taken the money they have to find a way to repay their benefactor.

"In this way you substitute the public interest for the interests of certain elites who finance the campaign," the source said. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Elites and Organized Crime

Echoing some of Velásquez's comments, the CICIG source also said the cases that have been brought with the anti-corruption body's support "shine a light on the problem, but they don't solve the whole problem."

"The system of corruption is so profound, with deep roots, that it does not depend on any one case or any one person," the source said. "It can change, adapt with great speed."

Guatemala ranked 123 out of 167 countries in Transparency International's 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index survey. The only countries in the Americas that scored worse were Venezuela, Haiti, Paraguay and Nicaragua.

share icon icon icon

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

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 / 28 MAR 2017

A new report estimates that transnational crime in the developing world may be a multi-trillion dollar annual business, generating…

ELITES AND CRIME / 7 JUL 2015

A series of corruption scandals implicating high-level government officials have rocked Honduras and Guatemala in recent months. In both countries,…

GUATEMALA / 23 APR 2014

Press in Guatemala have confirmed one of the main players in appointing the country's new attorney general is under investigation…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…