Two major candidates in Guatemala's upcoming presidential elections have told WOLA that they support a stalled U.N.-sponsored commission to probe the country's illegal armed networks. WOLA hopes their stand will now encourage the Guatemalan Congress to approve the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), intended to investigate the violence and impunity plaguing Guatemala.
Presidential candidates Otto Pérez Molina, of the Patriot Party, and Álvaro Colom, of the National Unity for Hope, told WOLA staff in separate meetings in June that they supported creation of the commission. WOLA looks forward to meeting with other candidates to learn of their positions on this initiative.
Announced jointly by the Guatemalan government and United Nations in December, the CICIG has been held up in Congress, which must approve the commission before it can begin work. The U.N.-led commission would determine the structure and reach of illegal violent groups in Guatemala and the extent of their links to state actors, as well as promote the networks' dismantling and prosecution of people involved in them.
"The wall of impunity that these groups have built for themselves has undercut the justice system and perpetuated a climate of insecurity, creating conditions for more corruption, violence and organized crime," said Adriana Beltrán, WOLA's Associate for Guatemala.
Last week, Guatemala's ambassador to the United States and several members of the U.S. Congress expressed their support at a Capitol hearing for creation of CICIG.
"Clandestine groups in Guatemala, often made up of former military and intelligence officials, have moved into organized crime. Because of their influence inside government, they are a real threat to democratic functioning," said Geoff Thale, WOLA's Director of Programs in testimony at the hearing. "CICIG will contribute to the consolidation of the rule of law by assisting the relevant state institutions in the prosecution and punishment of clandestine groups."
Adriana Beltrán, Associate for Guatemala, (202) 797 2171, ext. 206;
Roger Atwood, Communications Director, (202) 797 2171, ext. 211, Cell (202) 316 3857