Category Archives: Guatemala

Will Guatemala’s Incoming President Curb Migration to the US?

I have an op-ed at The Globe Post that looks at what we can expect from the Giammattei administration in Guatemala.
Giammattei will also have to contend with how weak the state has become in the last four years. Morales disobeyed Constitutional Court’s rulings, oversaw a remilitarization of the police and the replacement of its professionals, and undermined the free press and access to information. In another concerning move, the attorney general does not appear to have any interest in taking advantage of the expertise of those Guatemalans who had worked with CICIG for the last several years.

Giammatte: The fourth time’s a charm

Unfortunately, the evidence would seem to indicate that Alejandro Giammattei’s presidency will be much like that of his predecessor, Jimmy Morales. In case you are interested in some of my thoughts from Sunday's election in Guatemala, you can read what I had to say in these recent news stories.

Guatemalans worry about graft after Giammattei wins election. Associated Press. Sonia Perez (August 12).

Michael Allison on Guatemala's economic outlook with incoming president. CGTN America. Roee Ruttenberg (August 12).

Guatemala’s new president faces U.S. challenges on migration. Catholic News Service. David Agren (August 12).

Guatemala elects right-wing president amid dismal turnout. Washington Post. Sandra Cuffe (August 12).

Guatemala threatens US and UN credibility

I published some commentary on what is going on in Central America recently in the Hill with Losing the fight against corruption and narco-trafficking in Guatemala. Protests are helping but without a clear statement from the US it is difficult to see the Morales government softening its stance against CICIG. Unfortunately, nothing that the Morales government has said or done leads one to believe that their only concern is with Velasquez or CICIG. They've sought to dismantle the PNC leadership and Constitutional Court.

Unfortunately, my submission was revised in a way that I did not support. I tried to hold off sharing the op-ed until some revisions were made to it. I didn't learn of these revisions until after the article went live. Because the more problematic revisions were done by a university consultant and not Hill editors, the Hill hasn't been enthusiastic about making the revision. They did change the error on their part. I've asked for additional changes to be made or for the article to be taken down. (Update: On Sunday afternoon, the most problematic paragraph was deleted.)

Here is what is posted, which is not what happened and not what I wrote.
In August, in a move to intimidate the American ambassador who supports CICIG, Morales stated that U.S.-donated jeeps should not be used to drive the streets of the capitol, but rather “for the purpose of combatting criminal activity and narcotics trafficking, with a focus on Guatemala’s borders.”
And here is what I originally submitted.
Finally, Guatemala also sought to intimidate the United States in August when several U.S.-donated jeeps were seen near the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City when President Morales announced that CICIG’s mandate would not be renewed. According to the Embassy, these jeeps were to be used “for the purpose of combatting criminal activity and narcotics trafficking, with a focus on Guatemala’s borders.” They should not have been driving the streets of the capital. The move was widely perceived as a move to “intimidate the American ambassador, who publicly supports Cicig.”
The paragraph needed some revision but the revisions made changed the meaning of Morales' actions. There was also some heavy editing of the following paragraph. This is what is published.
But the most important people to consider regarding the future of CICIG is the Guatemalan people. Guatemala is one of the hemisphere’s poorer countries, with alarming numbers of indigenous and rural people living in extreme poverty.
Guatemalans have consistently supported CICIG. Until relatively recently, so has the United States.
Our government and the international community failed to defend democracy when it came under attack in Honduras and Nicaragua. The people of those two countries continue to suffer the consequences. It is not too late, however, to prevent the reversal of what progress has been made with the assistance of CICIG in Guatemala.
And here is what I wrote.
But the most important people to consider regarding the future of CICIG is the Guatemalan people. Guatemala is one of the hemisphere’s poorer countries, with alarming numbers of Indigenous and rural people living in extreme poverty. While the country’s murder rate decreased in 2018, insecurity continues to threaten the day to day existence of too many. Poor economic and security conditions have caused tens of thousands of Guatemalans, many of whom are families and unaccompanied minors, to flee for the United States. One of the bright spots, however, has been CICIG. After several years of attacks by Morales and important members of the political and economic elite to discredit CICIG, Guatemalans continue to demonstrate strong support for the institution. Every time that President Morales has attacked CICIG, the Guatemalan people and Constitutional Court have come to its defense. Until relatively recently, so has the United States.
The United States and international community failed to successfully defend democracy when it came under attack in Honduras and Nicaragua. The people of those two countries continue to suffer the consequences. It is not too late, however, to prevent the reversal of what progress has been made with the assistance of CICIG in Guatemala.
Anyway, it still online here.

Guatemala threatens US and UN credibility

I published some commentary on what is going on in Central America recently in the Hill with Losing the fight against corruption and narco-trafficking in Guatemala. Protests are helping but without a clear statement from the US it is difficult to see the Morales government softening its stance against CICIG. Unfortunately, nothing that the Morales government has said or done leads one to believe that their only concern is with Velasquez or CICIG. They've sought to dismantle the PNC leadership and Constitutional Court.

Unfortunately, my submission was revised in a way that I did not support. I tried to hold off sharing the op-ed until some revisions were made to it. I didn't learn of these revisions until after the article went live. Because the more problematic revisions were done by a university consultant and not Hill editors, the Hill hasn't been enthusiastic about making the revision. They did change the error on their part. I've asked for additional changes to be made or for the article to be taken down. (Update: On Sunday afternoon, the most problematic paragraph was deleted.)

Here is what is posted, which is not what happened and not what I wrote.
In August, in a move to intimidate the American ambassador who supports CICIG, Morales stated that U.S.-donated jeeps should not be used to drive the streets of the capitol, but rather “for the purpose of combatting criminal activity and narcotics trafficking, with a focus on Guatemala’s borders.”
And here is what I originally submitted.
Finally, Guatemala also sought to intimidate the United States in August when several U.S.-donated jeeps were seen near the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City when President Morales announced that CICIG’s mandate would not be renewed. According to the Embassy, these jeeps were to be used “for the purpose of combatting criminal activity and narcotics trafficking, with a focus on Guatemala’s borders.” They should not have been driving the streets of the capital. The move was widely perceived as a move to “intimidate the American ambassador, who publicly supports Cicig.”
The paragraph needed some revision but the revisions made changed the meaning of Morales' actions. There was also some heavy editing of the following paragraph. This is what is published.
But the most important people to consider regarding the future of CICIG is the Guatemalan people. Guatemala is one of the hemisphere’s poorer countries, with alarming numbers of indigenous and rural people living in extreme poverty.
Guatemalans have consistently supported CICIG. Until relatively recently, so has the United States.
Our government and the international community failed to defend democracy when it came under attack in Honduras and Nicaragua. The people of those two countries continue to suffer the consequences. It is not too late, however, to prevent the reversal of what progress has been made with the assistance of CICIG in Guatemala.
And here is what I wrote.
But the most important people to consider regarding the future of CICIG is the Guatemalan people. Guatemala is one of the hemisphere’s poorer countries, with alarming numbers of Indigenous and rural people living in extreme poverty. While the country’s murder rate decreased in 2018, insecurity continues to threaten the day to day existence of too many. Poor economic and security conditions have caused tens of thousands of Guatemalans, many of whom are families and unaccompanied minors, to flee for the United States. One of the bright spots, however, has been CICIG. After several years of attacks by Morales and important members of the political and economic elite to discredit CICIG, Guatemalans continue to demonstrate strong support for the institution. Every time that President Morales has attacked CICIG, the Guatemalan people and Constitutional Court have come to its defense. Until relatively recently, so has the United States.
The United States and international community failed to successfully defend democracy when it came under attack in Honduras and Nicaragua. The people of those two countries continue to suffer the consequences. It is not too late, however, to prevent the reversal of what progress has been made with the assistance of CICIG in Guatemala.
Anyway, it still online here.

Constitutional Court blocks CICIG expulsion

On Monday, President Morales and his administration announced that they were ending the CICIG experiment immediately, instead of September of this year. Morales is trying to shut down an institution that is investigating him, his family, and party. There is no reason to believe that Morales is acting out of anything but self-interest. I spoke with the Guardian yesterday about what is going on.

Earlier this morning, the Constitutional Court blocked Morales' order. Meanwhile, the international community released a lukewarm message defending democracy, the rule of law, and checks and balances.