As many of you know, Guatemala is in the midst of a Constitutional Crisis. On Friday, August 31, the Guatemalan government declared that it would not renew the mandate of the UN-back Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) in September 2019. Then when the Commissioner Ivan Velasquez left the country for meetings in the US, Guatemalan Immigration said he would not be allowed back into the country. A number of injunctions were submitted to the Constitutional Court, many referencing a 2017 decision by the court after Velasquez was declared “non-grato” by the president due to investigations into his party, FCN for illicit campaign financing.

Finally, on Sunday night, the Constitutional Court ruled that yes, Ivan Velasquez can return to Guatemala. BUT on Monday morning, the Guatemalan government released a statement saying he was not allowed back in and gave the UN 48 hours to name a new commissioner of CICIG.

This is very concerning. The checks and balances which exist in the executive branch of government and the judicial branch are being ignored. President Jimmy Morales is consolidating power, and even trying to pass a law during this crisis that any attempts to appeal that a president loses immunity (which could lead to impeachment) would go through the members of Congress and no longer the Supreme Court. And we know the majority of Congress is on the side of the president.

This crisis goes beyond CICIG and Ivan Velasquez. It is an attempt to restore historic structures of impunity in Guatemala, and everyone in the country will be affected by this attempt to strong-arm the commission. In speaking with the National Coordinator of the CCDA, Marcelo Sabuc who will be joining us for our speaking tour in November, he and others feel that without the CICIG (or without a strong CICIG) that the first targets of the government will be human rights defenders. They are the ones speaking out against this consolidation of power and demanding Jimmy Morales’ resignation.

This Thursday, there will be protests blocking highways throughout Guatemala. We must stand in solidarity with our partners and civil society to challenge this consolidation of power which undermines and attempts to reverse important work against corruption and impunity.

Additional information

Guatemala faces ‘litmus test’ after ruling on anti-graft chief
Special forces presence at anti-graft protest angers Guatemalans
‘Resign!’: Protests against Jimmy Morales mount in Guatemala amid constitutional crisis
Constitutional Standoff Pushes Guatemala Toward Authoritarianism
Guatemala on knife-edge after president moves to end anti-corruption body