HomeNewsBriefPredicting the Fall of Guatemala’s President
BRIEF

Predicting the Fall of Guatemala’s President

ELITES AND CRIME / 27 AUG 2015 BY ARRON DAUGHERTY EN

Although the walls are closing in on Guatemala President Otto Perez Molina, due to new revelations of his involvement in a massive corruption case, he may yet avoid prison. 

Guatemala’s Supreme Court unanimously approved the Attorney General’s motion to strip the president of his immunity, forwarding the case to Congress, where lawmakers will decide what happens next. 

Top prosecutors from Guatemala have accused Perez Molina and ex-Vice President Roxana Baldetti of running a customs fraud network known as La Linea

Perez Molina’s center-right Patriotic Party, and its ally, the Lider party, currently hold a majority in Congress, which helped put an end to a previous attempt — spearheaded by the opposition — to vote to remove his immunity. However, with Guatemala’s general election two weeks away, Lider party leaders may find it difficult to defend Guatemala’s  “most disputed president ever,” argued investigative news website Nomada.  

The president has repeatedly said he will not resign.

Under Guatemalan law, Perez Molina’s presidency will end the moment a judge decides to place him in preventative detention. At that moment, Vice President Alejandro Maldonado Aguirre will become the new head of state. 

InSight Crime Analysis

While La Linea and other scandals have certainly created chaos and public outrage in Guatemala, there’s no guarantee this will translate into prison time for Perez Molina.

Guatemalan courts are notoriously easy for special interests to corrupt and manipulate. As InSight Crime has documented, this has allowed elites to turn the country into what is practically a mafia state. 

SEE ALSO:  The War for Guatemala’s Courts

If Congress decides to strip the president of his immunity, the case will then be heard before a judge, who may decide the case doesn’t merit a trial.

And even if Perez Molina’s case does make it that far, previous trials involving Guatemala’s top political elites set a poor precedent for justice. 

For example, ex-dictator Efrain Rios Montt was convicted in 2013 of genocide and crimes against humanity. His 80-year sentence was then overturned on a technicality and he was later declared mentally unfit for sentencing.

If genocide can go unpunished, Perez Molina may have a chance of escaping prison time over alleged customs fraud. On the other hand, if a sitting president in Guatemala is impeached and sentenced, this would send an unprecedented message to Guatemala’s corrupt elites that the days of de facto impunity are over.  

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

GUATEMALA / 5 MAY 2016

The US Vice President has praised progress made in the multilateral security plan for Central America's Northern Triangle countries after meeting…

ELITES AND CRIME / 2 JUN 2020

When journalist Nina Lakhani first met Berta Cáceres in 2013 on the eve of the general elections in Honduras, the…

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 11 OCT 2012

A recent report on the environmental destruction caused by organized crime in Guatemala sheds light on an often overlooked consequence…

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…