Sep 11, 2018

Guatemala faces constitutional crisis (Sept. 11, 2018)

Guatemala's Constitutional Court holds the cards in the latest round of the battle between President Jimmy Morales and Guatemala's U.N. anti-graft commission. At least eight appeals have been lodged against his barring of CICIG head Iván Velásquez last week, three of which appeal to a Constitutional Court decision last year protecting Velásquez's work. (El Periódico)

The issue puts Guatemala on the brink of a constitutional crisis, with a potential court decision forcing Morales to either backtrack or disobey a judicial ruling. Already constitutionalists say his unilateral decision to prohibit Velásquez from entering Guatemala is contrary to last year's Constitutional Court decision. Constitutionalist Gabriel Orellana calls it a coup administered by dropper. (El Periódico)

Late to the issue? InSight Crime recaps the Morales-CICIG battle.

U.S. support has played a key factor in strengthening the CICIG until now, and it's tepid response (see Friday's post) is now empowering Morales' onslaught against the anti-graft commission, reports the New York Times. Advocates fear the weak show of support will also reduce popular support for the CICIG, which has proved key in strengthening its work in recent years. 

Yesterday U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres ratified support for the CICIG in a U.N. Security Council meeting, calling it an example for other countries. (La República)

The majority of Guatemalans support the CICIG, which is one of the most trusted institutions in the country. Social pressure will prove key in this standoff, wrote Martín Rodríguez Pellecer in a recent New York Times Español op-ed. And some voices are proposing a plebiscite on whether the commission's mandate should be extended.

Various groups held protests yesterday -- thousands of members of indigenous communities blocked sections of the Panamerican highway. (Al Jazeera) And more demonstrations planned for throughout the week. Today the Constitutional Court ordered the Morales administration to guarantee the right to protest, in response to a request from the country's human rights prosecutor. (EFE)

Without the CICIG, land rights activists will face more persecution in Guatemala, write  Rony Morales and Michael Taylor in the Washington Post.

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