Washington, D.C – The Washington Office on Latin America condemns the decision made by the President of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales’, to declare Iván Velásquez, head of the U.N.–sponsored International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), “persona non grata,” and to expel the commissioner from the country. WOLA reiterates our complete support for Commissioner Velásquez, as well as the efforts of the CICIG and Public Ministry against corruption and impunity.
“With this decision, the president has chosen to protect his personal interests and not the interests and well-being of the Guatemalan people, who have stepped forward to demand an end to impunity and corruption” stated Adriana Beltrán, director of the Citizen Security program at WOLA, a leading human rights organization.
The decision by President Morales comes after the CICIG and Attorney General’s office announced they would investigate the president for possible crimes related to illicit campaign contributions. A few days ago, reports circulated that President Morales was considering this action against the commissioner, which provoked national and international concern, including statements by the Secretary General of the UN. Various U.S. members of Congress announced that such a decision would be cause to believe that the Guatemalan government is not committed to the fight against corruption and impunity, which is one of the conditions for U.S. economic assistance. These conditions were established as a way to ensure the effective use of funds from Congress.
“Commissioner Velásquez has done an impeccable job and has shown his commitment to the fight against impunity and corruption. The decision by the president to expel the commissioner is a blatant attack on the rule of law in Guatemala and a major setback to the efforts to strengthen justice and security institutions in Guatemala. This decision puts U.S. assistance to Guatemala at great risk,” said Beltrán.
WOLA urges President Morales to comply with the resolution of the Constitutional Court of Guatemala while also guaranteeing the Guatemalan people the right to peacefully protest. In the same vein, WOLA urges the international community to press for absolute respect for human rights in Guatemala.