Guatemala President Jimmy Morales announced that he has decided to “prohibit the entry of Mr. Iván Velásquez Gómez into Guatemalan territory” and asked the United Nations Secretary General to name a substitute as head of the CICIG.
In a September 4 press release, the administration of Guatemala President Jimmy Morales once again accused Velásquez, the head of the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala – CICIG), of “attacking public order and security,” and “affecting the governance, institutions, justice and peace of the country.”
Velásquez, a Colombian judge who took the reins of the CICIG in 2013, joined forces with Guatemala's Attorney General’s Office to promote investigations against many of the country’s political and economic elites for alleged acts of corruption. Morales is one of those elites, and is under investigation for alleged illicit campaign financing.
As a result of the investigations, Attorney General Consuelo Porras asked Guatemala’s Congress to lift the president’s immunity so he can face the charges against him.
On August 31, Morales announced that he had asked the UN, which provides some of the CICIG's funding, not to renew the mandate of the commission, which expires in September 2019.
As the United States is another major backer of the commission, after the announcement, Velásquez traveled to Washington and New York to present his take on the situation in Guatemala to stakeholders in US Congress and President Donald Trump’s administration. The commissioner is scheduled to return to Guatemala on September 7, but Morales’ decision seems to have made that impossible.
InSight Crime Analysis
Morales is taking yet another shot at fulfilling his unwavering desire to rid himself of both Velásquez and the CICIG. But in the process, he also accused the UN of being “passive” when it came to addressing his government’s complaints about the investigations the commission backed.
Clearly, Morales’ number one priority is ousting Velásquez, given that in the August 31 press release he stated that he would respect the mandate that is still in effect and allow the CICIG to remain until 2019. He even asked for a rush decision on nominating a replacement for the commissioner.
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So far, his decision to bar Commissioner Velásquez from the country has been met with condemnation from the United States in the form of a statement from the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, which has been one of the CICIG’s most enthusiastic supporters in its fight against corruption in Guatemala.
The UN’s response to both Morales’ decision and his request for a new CICIG commissioner remains to be seen.
While we wait for action from other players, the Guatemalan president has been making his own moves in the political battle he started in order to shield himself from the investigations against him. At least for now, he seems to be winning.