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Heavily armed soldiers escort the caravan of Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales to a ceremony to inaugurate a soccer field, Mixco, Guatemala, Sept. 17, 2018 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

Guatemala’s Assault on an Anti-Corruption Commission Evokes the Country’s Dark Past

Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018

GUATEMALA CITY—It looked like a modern-day re-enactment of the 1982 photograph of Gen. Efrain Rios Montt and other military officers at a press conference following their coup. On Aug. 31, military, police and special forces officers lined up several rows deep behind Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, who announced the government’s decision not to renew the mandate of a United Nations-backed anti-corruption body, the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, known by its Spanish acronym, CICIG. Although it has been widely praised internationally for exposing deep-seated networks of corruption within the highest levels of the Guatemalan government, bringing down several politicians including Morales’ predecessor, the commission has faced increasing pressure from a political class eager to see it shut down. Morales, facing corruption charges himself, has been the public face of those efforts.

For many Guatemalans, the government’s actions hark back to the violent military rule during the country’s 36-year civil war that ended in 1996. In the lead-up to Morales’ press conference, military vehicles suddenly began circulating in the capital. ...

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