Monday, September 07, 2015

GUATEMALA - Uprising

"Why Guatemalans rose up against government corruption" PBS NewsHour 9/4/2015


SUMMARY:  On Thursday, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina was forced to resign.  By the afternoon, he was in court, accused of taking part in a multi-million dollar bribery operation, and then he spent the night in jail.  Judy Woodruff takes a closer look at the dramatic turn of events with Adriana Beltrán from the Washington Office on Latin America.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  We turn now to a major shakeup in the Central American nation of Guatemala.

On Thursday morning, President Otto Perez Molina was forced to resign.  By Thursday afternoon, he was in court to face charges, and he spent the night in jail.  He’s accused of taking part in a multimillion-dollar bribery operation.  As the allegations were revealed over the summer, tens of thousands of Guatemalans took to the streets, demanding accountability.

For more on these allegations and what it means for that country, I’m joined now by Adriana Beltran.  She’s a Guatemala expert at the Washington Office on Latin America. It’s a research group that advocates for human rights.

Welcome to the NewsHour.

ADRIANA BELTRAN, Washington Office on Latin America:  Thank you, Judy, for inviting me.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, tell us, what are all these corruption charges about?  What do they actually involve?

ADRIANA BELTRAN:  Well, back in April, the Guatemalan public prosecutor’s office and the U.N.-led International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, or CICIG, unearthed a massive corruption scandal within the tax authority office.

It implicated a number of high-level officials that had essentially set up a scheme where they were accepting massive bribes for importers to be able to pay lower taxes, thereby defrauding the state of millions and millions of revenue.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  And this has been unfolding over the year. Earlier this year, the vice president had to step down.


So, due to these charges, the vice president was forced to resign in May.  In August, following more investigations that were carried out by the prosecutor’s office and by the CICIG, they announced they had sufficient evidence to allege that both former Vice President Baldetti and now former President Otto Perez Molina were involved in this case.

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