Morales’ government rocked by successive scandals

Martín Rodríguez Pellecer and Javier Estrada take a look at the complexities of the recent corruption allegations against Jimmy Morales' brother, son, and close confidants in Guatemala. They provide additional details on the fake bills story I mentioned last week.

The allegations are just the latest in a series of blows to Morales and his government. They are leading people to question whether he will make it to his first year anniversary.
He can no longer count on his inner circle of military advisers; Armando Melgar abandoned the administration following a scandal that involved spying on opposition figures in order to join congress and gain immunity. Edgar Ovalle, who is co-founder of Morales' political party and has been a top advisor to the president, is on the verge of losing his own congressional immunity in connection with massacres carried out in the 1980s that the United Nations has equated with genocide against Guatemala's indigenous population. Eight other cong[r]essional representatives for Morales' FCN party have been accused of racism and abuse of authority for allegedly trying to bully the indigenous governor of Alta Verapaz into relinquishing to them control of the department's development agenda.
On top of his family troubles, Morales is dogged by claims by a major drug trafficker that he gave $500,000 to Morales' vice presidential candidate, Jafeth Cabrera, during their 2015 campaign. Sources told Nomada that trafficker and former military officer Marlon Francesco Monroy Meoño, alias "El Fantasma" (The Ghost), was also approached by mafia figures who wanted him to assassinate Guatemala's attorney general. Monroy is currently in jail awaiting extradition to the United States. The same sources said the vice president is being investigated by the Attorney General's Office, the CICIG, and the US Embassy.
Given the legal panorama, it appears that President Morales and Vice President Cabrera are facing an increasingly uphill battle to make it to January 14, 2017, their one-year anniversary in office.
There are people in and out of El Salvador who are screaming about the unfairness with which they perceive that country's attorney general to be targeting Mauricio Funes and other people connected to the current and former FMLN administration. Nothing is beyond the realm of possibility in El Salvador, and Central America more generally, but the AG's simultaneous investigations of members from other political parties and the preliminary evidence against Funes throw such concerns into doubt.

As the Guatemalan experience during the CICIG years has demonstrated, prosecutors have been much more successful pursuing existing corruption rings. They failed to prosecute former president Alfonso Portillo and members of the prison death squads; and they have not made much progress against the specific parallel power structures that brought them to Guatemala in the first place ten years ago.

Wiretaps, surveillance, electronic records, and eyewitness testimony have been extremely useful in gathering evidence in regard to ongoing cases of corruption. The same might hold true in El Salvador where authorities likely will have much stronger cases involving recent crimes. Unfortunately, that means the pursuit of corruption charges and other crimes against individuals connected to ARENA governments from 1989 to 2009 are likely to linger in impunity, especially following Francisco Flores' death.