Another scandal involving people close to Guatemala President Otto Perez Molina has surfaced, calling attention not just to the president but deep-seated corruption issues within Guatemala’s political system.
Gustavo Martinez, son-in-law and general secretary to Perez Molina, was one of several people arrested under suspicion of forming part of an influence-trafficking network, local media reported.
The detainees are accused of using their political influence to the benefit of energy firms such as Jaguar Energy, one of the country’s biggest electricity companies, in exchange for bribes. Others arrested included former Energy and Mines Minister Edwin Ramos Rodas Solares and businessman Cesar Augusto Medina Farfan.
Martinez also forms part of a growing number of people close to Perez Molina who have been accused of wrongdoing. Most notably, Guatemala’s Vice President stepped down earlier this year after being accused of links to a customs fraud ring.
Meanwhile, Guatemala’s Supreme Court recently stripped Perez of his presidential immunity. This paves the way for a previously halted congressional probe into any alleged connection he may have with these scandals.
In a press conference following a visit from a top US State Department official, Guatemala’s president said he did not plan to resign. “I won’t step down, I’ll continue with this struggle,” Perez Molina said, adding “I have nothing to hide.”
InSight Crime Analysis
Perez’s time in office ends January 2016, and he is undoubtedly in for a rough time politically until then. During massive protests earlier this year, many called for his resignation.
However, nor should this political malfeasance be seen as something exclusively practiced during Perez’s administration. Many of Guatemala’s political elites have long been involved in corruption schemes, frequently with million-dollar contracts at stake. As an InSight Crime investigation revealed, corruption and organized crime have become an intrinsic part of Guatemala’s political process, to the point where it would not be outrageous to say that Guatemala practically operates like a mafia state. Political groups routinely embezzle public funds and use their positions to enrich allies and themselves. This widespread corruption has spread to the nation’s judicial system, virtually ensuring corruption will go unpunished.
SEE ALSO: The War for Guatemala’s Courts
United Nations anti-impunity body the CICIG — which spearheaded the investigation that have lead to these arrests — have inarguably done much to improve accountability in Guatemala. Whether it can do more to ultimately root out corruption at the heart of the nation’s judiciary remains to be seen.