Author: Andrea Fernández Aponte
Last week, President Jimmy Morales announced at a press conference his decision to end the mandate of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), and later refused to let the head of the UN anti-corruption body, Iván Velázquez, back in the country.
This is a real threat to Guatemala’s democracy. In fact, President Morales’s latest actions, combined with intentional displays of military power—during the press conference, President Morales stood amidst dozens of military officers in battledress, and CICIG’s offices were surrounded by military jeeps—suggest that his government is not interested in respecting the rule of law.
The U.S. government has not spoken out against what’s happening in Guatemala. On the contrary, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo actually praised the Guatemalan government a few days after the press conference.
We MUST demand our government to take a stand against corruption and militarization in Guatemala! TAKE ACTION NOW>>
CICIG has been doing great work against corruption in the country, but not without ruffling any feathers. In fact, CICIG and the Public Ministry recently presented a request to lift President Morales’ immunity for not reporting over $1 million cash that was used to bribe table monitors on the day of the 2015 national election.
A top concern now is securing the safety and ongoing independence of the Guatemalan Constitutional Court, especially since the legality of President Morales’ actions will eventually be decided by the Court.
Fortunately, some members of Congress have started to speak out on this issue. But we need more voices!
Please take 5 minutes to CALL and email your members of Congress. Tell them to:
- Call the State Department and demand they:
- strongly oppose Morales’ decision to end CICIG’s mandate and bar the re-entry of Iván Velázquez;
- suspend all U.S. assistance to Guatemala’s central government and security forces; and
- sanction Guatemalan officials involved in corruption by denying them visas and freezing their U.S. assets.
- Issue a strong statement in support of CICIG and Guatemala’s Constitutional Court, and calling for an end of all U.S. assistance to Guatemala’s central government unless President Morales reverses his decision on CICIG and demonstrates credible commitment to addressing corruption and supporting human rights.
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Here’s what to say:
“Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] and I am a resident of [YOUR DISTRICT/STATE]. As [NAME OF LEGISLATOR]‘s constituent, I am gravely concerned about the current situation in Guatemala. I urge the Senator/Representative to call the State Department and demand they: (1) strongly oppose President Jimmy Morales’ decision to end CICIG’s mandate and expel the head of the UN anti-graft body from the country, (2) suspend all U.S. assistance to Guatemala’s central government and security forces, and (3) sanction Guatemalan officials involved in corruption by denying them visas and freezing their U.S. assets. Finally, I encourage the Senator/Representative issue a strong statement calling for an end of all U.S. assistance to Guatemala’s central government unless President Morales reverses his decision on CICIG and demonstrates credible commitment to addressing corruption and supporting human rights. I hope the Senator/Representative does the right thing and defends democracy and human rights in Guatemala. Thank you!”
Once you call your members of Congress, send them an email! Also, don’t forget to ask your neighbors, friends, and family to take action too!
This is a crucial time in Guatemala. If we don’t speak up for democracy, justice, and human rights today, tomorrow might be too late. So THANK YOU for standing with us and the people of Guatemala!
Andrea for the LAWG Team—Lisa, Mavis, Daniella, Andrea, and Lily