Anti-Corruption Fighters Face Mounting Attacks From Guatemala’s ‘Mafia State’

Anti-Corruption Fighters Face Mounting Attacks From Guatemala’s ‘Mafia State’
Police stand guard at the National Palace as protestors demonstrate against then-President Jimmy Morales and corruption in Guatemala City, Guatemala, Sept. 20, 2018 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

During more than a dozen years in operation, the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, known by its Spanish acronym CICIG, helped expose a shocking degree of high-level corruption. One case even resulted in the resignation and arrest of then-President Otto Perez Molina and his vice president in 2015. However, the commission was forced to shut down in September 2019 when Molina’s successor, Jimmy Morales, refused to extend its mandate.

In the months since the commission shut down, there has been a concerning rise in verbal attacks and death threats against Guatemala’s anti-corruption community, forcing some of them to flee the country. The attacks also extend to parts of Guatemala’s judiciary, as the Congress and Supreme Court recently launched proceedings to remove four judges from the Constitutional Court who have a history of backing anti-corruption cases.

This is all happening at a troubling time for the rule of law, independent judiciaries and anti-corruption campaigns in Central America. For this week’s interview on Trend Lines, WPR’s Elliot Waldman discusses these issues with Adriana Beltran, director of citizen security at the Washington Office on Latin America. Click here to read a transcript of an excerpt from the interview.


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Relevant Articles on WPR:
Guatemala’s Assault on an Anti-Corruption Commission Evokes the Country’s Dark Past
Can Guatemala’s Next President Stem the Flow of Migration Out of the Country?
Taking Stock of Progress, and Setbacks, in Central America’s Fight Against Corruption
El Salvador’s Attorney General Pays a Steep Price for His Anti-Corruption Fight
Why Tackling Corruption Is Crucial to the Global Coronavirus Response

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Trend Lines is produced and edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and resource politics in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @peterdoerrie.

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