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Guatemalans protest gov’t decision to kick out anti-graft body | News

Guatemala City – Holding wood indicators emblazoned with messages condemning corruption, Dolores Yal and different indigenous Maya Kaqchikel men and women covered up at the back of their banners, looking ahead to the march to start.

They travelled 65km from the Patzicia municipality to Guatemala City to sign up for loads of Guatemalans to march in opposition to the most recent authorities threats to constitutional order and anti-corruption efforts.

“We are here to oppose corruption. We have already been battling it for years,” Yal, a pacesetter of the Residents Against Corruption in Patzicia motion, instructed Al Jazeera.

The protests come after Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales on Monday shutdown the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and ordered its global body of workers to go away the rustic inside 24 hours.

The CICIG shutdown and authorities defiance of Constitutional Court rulings overturning its anti-CICIG measures have sparked standard opposition. Patzicia citizens, city collectives, human rights activists, scholars, artists and different Guatemalans amassed at a capital town roundabout Saturday to start an hours-long march into the downtown core.

“We do not want [CICIG] to leave the country. We want it to come back,” stated Yal.



Residents from Patzicia, Chimaltenango march within the protest rejecting Morales’ movements in opposition to CICIG [Jeff Abbott/Al Jazeera]

Jorge Santos sees the rising demonstrations as a favorable signal. The government director of Udefegua, a countrywide human rights workforce, Santos attended the march in conjunction with different human rights observers from the organisation.

“The executive branch of government undertook these illegal, unconstitutional and illegitimate actions during a period when they did not expect people to react, between Christmas and into the new year,” he instructed Al Jazeera as loads of folks started marching up a street.

Repeated assaults on CICIG

Established in 2007, CICIG won global consideration following an investigation into the management of then President Otto Perez Molina, which led to his resignation in 2015 and prosecution for corruption. 

Morales used to be elected president on an anti-corruption platform simply days after Perez Molina’s arrest. Since taking place of work in 2016, then again, the Morales management has confronted investigations into alleged acts of corruption, together with unlawful financing of the 2015 marketing campaign. Morales has denied all allegations of corruption.

As the investigations into Morales and his birthday party advanced, the management tried in 2017 to derail CICIG’s investigations by means of pointing out head commissioner Ivan Velasquez personality non-grata, making an attempt to bar him from the rustic. The measure used to be reversed days later by means of the rustic’s Constitutional Court.

In August 2018, Morales introduced that he used to be no longer going to renew CICIG’s mandate after which barred Velasquez from the rustic in early September. Once once more the Constitutional Court dominated in opposition to Morales’s unilateral decision, however the management refused to agree to the court docket order.

The struggle between the federal government and the rustic’s most sensible court docket persisted over visas for global CICIG group of workers in December 2018 and into the brand new yr, when the federal government detained a CICIG investigator January five for greater than 24 hours upon access on the airport.

Two days later, Morales introduced Monday that the federal government used to be unilaterally retreating from the settlement with the UN that established the CICIG. He accused the body of polarising the rustic, violating human rights, and being allied with prison constructions and “terrorists”.

“The [government] thinks that it has absolute power,” stated Pamela Saravia, a member of the Batucada del Pueblo collective that has participated with drumming in just about each and every anti-corruption protest since 2015. 

“This is the moment to tell them that it isn’t that way. We need to defend the constitution,” Saravia instructed Al Jazeera.

The Constitutional Court ordered a provisional injunction on Wednesday, reversing the expulsion of CICIG, however the absolute best court docket itself may be below assault. The authorities has been defying its rulings, breaking with constitutional order, and government-aligned politicians are making an attempt to take away judges.

In a public observation on Friday, the Guatemalan authorities pledged ongoing fortify for anti-corruption efforts and the guideline of legislation, however made no particular point out of both CICIG or the court docket.

More protests anticipated

Velasquez weighed in on Friday with an 11-page letter to UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres, laying out main points of the fee’s paintings and responding to the accusations in opposition to CICIG levelled by means of Morales, amongst others.

“The smear campaigns, defamation and threats have increased. That is expected when it comes to a body that has as its goal the prosecution of structures that co-opt the State to make a profit and that refuse to give up the privileges they obtained illegally and illegitimately,” Velasquez wrote. 

Saturday’s march kicked off a number of days of protests and scheduled for subsequent week across the nation.

A extensive coalition of organisations has organised freeway and border blockades on Monday, and a rural social motion has plans for additional national movements on Tuesday.

Guatemalan actions see the battle in opposition to corruption and a constitutional breakdown as extra necessary than ever as the rustic prepares for the June 2019 basic elections.

“The issue right now is that we must defend and guarantee that the government respects the constitution,” stated Saravia.

“We must prevent by all means the authoritarianism of the government that we are seeing today,” she stated.

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