He arrived in Guatemala four years ago as the head of a United Nations panel known as The International Commission Against Impunity (known by its Spanish initials as Cicig). It’s goal to strengthen the Guatemala rule of law and hold accountable its political and business elites for their crimes. His name is Ivan Velasquez- a no nonsense prosecutor, the mention of his name sends chills to the spines of Guatemala’s elite. Upon arrival in Guatemala to investigate corruption, Mr. Velasquez teamed up with Guatemala attorney general – Ms. Thelma Aldana.

In the Summer of 2015, their investigation into a customs fraud, conspiracy resulted in the resignation of Guatemala’s then president Otto Perez Molina. Mr. Molina is currently in prison in Guatemala awaiting trial on corruption charges. Mr. Velasquez probes have sent many bureaucrats and business leaders in prison for graft.

As Mr. Molina shamelessly exits Guatemala’s political scene, vowing to fight the corruption charges, entering Mr. Jimmy Morales, a television comedian who used the well-deserved misfortune of his predecessor to his advantage. He began to campaign for president under the slogan “Not corrupt, nor a thief.” He heralded Mr. Velasquez as a hero seeking to rid Guatemala of corruption against the greatest odds. In December of 2015, Mr. Morales swept into office as the first performer president with a mandate to rid Guatemala of corruption.

Mr. Morales embodied the aspirations of Guatemalans who were disillusioned about corrupt politicians who care about their pockets rather than the people. Mr. Morales promised to cooperate with any and all investigations. He pledged to support the efforts against corruption. Last year, Mr. Velasquez announced a corruption probe that implicated Mr. Morales’ son and older brother in a scheme to defraud the government by falsifying receipts. At that point, Mr. Morales did what Haiti’s former president – Michel Joseph Martelly would have done. He stopped cooperating with the Anti-Corruption Commission.

When prosecutor Velasquez and attorney general Aldana announced, another probe involving President Morales for accepting anonymous campaign donations and failing to report the same, enough was enough. The pressure became unbearable, and Mr. Morales did what a Haitian president would have done faced with a similar situation – he issued an order declaring the UN prosecutor “persona non-grata” a funny Latin term meaning you are no longer welcome. So, Morales ordered Velasquez out of Guatemala. At first, the political and business elite applauded the order. Afterall, they were tired of a prosecutor scrutinizing their every move. They had gone so far as to ask Mr. Velasquez how far he would go; how many people must be imprisoned before he stopped. Mr. Velasquez responded he would go as far as he needs to go.

Well, that may not happen because Morales wants this nuisance gone. Soon after Morales issued the order, Guatemala Attorney general moved for an injunction in the constitutional court who issued a temporary order against the expulsion order. The Attorney General pledged to resign if the order were to stand. She said, she would move to strip Morales of immunity from prosecution.

Morales’ order of expulsion has met with worldwide condemnation from other Latin American countries, to the United Nations, and the United States. US ambassador the UN, Nikki R. Haley said that Mr. Velasquez has the full support of the United States and the international community to investigate corruption in Guatemala. United Nations Secretary General Ant??nio Guterres
that Mr. Velasquez is an international public servant deserving of respect, and he must be allowed to do this job.

This maybe the beginning of the end of the Morales presidency. A neophyte politician a la Martelly, Mr. Morales displayed behavior reminiscent of Haiti’s president. The difference is that Guatemala may have an opportunity to choose an honest president now, an opportunity that Haitians did not have during five years of incompetence, nepotism, corruption, and theft.
Omega Staff Writers
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