HomeNewsBriefGuatemala VP Controlled, Influenced Media: Witness
BRIEF

Guatemala VP Controlled, Influenced Media: Witness

ELITES AND CRIME / 2 JUN 2017 BY LEONARDO GOI EN

A former vice president of Guatemala allegedly used her majority stake in two newspapers to try to influence their coverage of her administration, a stark reminder of the way in which direct control over media forms part of many political strategies.

During her time in office under the administration of Otto Pérez Molina (2012 – 2015), then Vice President Roxana Baldetti allegedly controlled 70 percent of the media group Corporación de Noticias, reported La Prensa Gráfica. Corporación owns the dailies Siglo21 and Al Día.

The revelations came as part of a testimony offered by Salvador González Álvarez, alias “Eco,” a former government functionary during the Pérez Molina administration who on May 31 testified in a case known as “Capture of the State” (“Cooptación del Estado“), which involves a series of pay-for-play schemes.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Elites and Organized Crime

The witness also claimed Baldetti used her power to ensure Siglo21 and Al Día provided favorable coverage of the vice president and the government. As reported by La Hora, Eco said that in January 2015, Baldetti allegedly instructed Siglo21 to publish a supplement to congratulate the government for its third-year results.

“As the government published its third report…I asked the production team [at Siglo21] to give me some time because Baldetti wrote me saying she wanted us to publish a supplement congratulating the government for its third year in office,” Eco was reported by La Hora as saying, adding that the former vice president seemed annoyed at the fact that he had not come up with the idea before. “She sent me a message saying that we were those that should have come up with this sort of stuff, not her.”

Baldetti and Pérez Molina resigned and were arrested in 2015 after authorities discovered they were running a customs fraud network. Each of them is currently under investigation for three distinct corruption cases.

InSight Crime Analysis

The case is a powerful illustration of the ability of Guatemalan elites to co-opt different institutions in an effort to increase and sustain their power. It is certainly not rare in a region where elites routinely purchase parts of or create their own media. 

SEE ALSO: Guatemala News and Profiles

The interesting thing is that it works the other way as well. Media mogul Ángel González, who owns several television and radio stations in Guatemala, also allegedly gave significant campaign contributions to Baldetti’s party and others as part of a quid pro quo between himself and the political elites to secure government contracts, favorably legislation and licenses, according to the same government investigation.    

Compartir 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.

Related Content

CARTEL DE LOS SOLES / 28 JUL 2014

A former intelligence chief from Venezuela accused of drug trafficking and ties to Colombia's FARC guerrillas has been released just…

BRAZIL / 8 MAY 2018

A new wave of arrests is continuing to expand the scope of Brazil’s wide-reaching anti-corruption probes, but the growing number…

BRAZIL / 19 MAY 2017

Brazil's President Michel Temer allegedly encouraged a businessman to pay hush money to a jailed associate, a remarkable illustration of…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…