Guatemala: Eight Weeks of Peaceful Protests Against Corruption

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Citizens of Guatemala held another massive peaceful demonstration on June 13 demanding the resignation of President Otto Pérez Molina. According to organizers 30,000 people attended Saturday’s march. All sectors of society have been participating in the marches. Students in particular have been taking the lead in organizing. One of the common slogans heard from the student sector:

“You messed with the wrong generation.”

VIDEO: Students Unite for the country

Protests began in April when the Public Ministry and the CICIG (International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala) uncovered a criminal network known as “La Linea” (The Line) that had the ability to install or remove tax administration superintendents, to charge commissions of up to 30% of the value of the tax on importers and defraud the treasury at least $2.5 million quetzales per week.

Demonstrations began shortly after news of the customs scandal broke demanding resignations of government officials and an end to corruption. Several high profile resignations & arrests have taken place since April including the Vice President Roxana Baldetti and the Minister of Energy and Mines Erick Archila who both resigned in May.

Twenty-four people, including the country’s top tax agent, have been arrested in the customs scandal and authorities are still looking for Baldetti’s former top aide, Juan Carlos Monzon who is believed to be the ringleader in the customs scandal.

A second scandal at the Social Security Institute broke in late May and exposed further corruption. Officials allegedly awarded a $15 million contract for kidney treatments to a company that lacked a license to perform the services; at least 13 patients have died as a result.



17 suspects have been arrested in connection with the Social Security scandal. They’ve been charged with a variety of offenses, including fraud, bribery, conspiracy, influence peddling, illegal collection of fees, illicit association, and insider trading. Guatemala’s interior minister and three other Cabinet officials resigned May 21 in the wake of the Social Security scandal.

Although President Pérez Molina has yet to be directly implicated in the corruption scandals, protesters blame him for the corruption. He is suspected to be an accomplice in La Linea and will be investigated.

Sources:

Soy502
Siglo21
Telesur
AP
Prensa Libre
Americas Quarterly

About Author

Erin Gallagher is a multimedia artist, translator and writer for Revolution News.